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ND Senator's Support Key to Health Bill Passage

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., has become integral to the GOP's efforts to pass health-care reform. (Bob Nichols/U.S. Dept. of Agriculture)
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., has become integral to the GOP's efforts to pass health-care reform. (Bob Nichols/U.S. Dept. of Agriculture)
June 30, 2017

FARGO, N.D – Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota has become a key vote for Republicans looking to pass health-care reform. As support for the legislation waned, including from Hoeven, leaders in the Senate pushed back a vote on their bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

With the extra time, groups in the state are encouraging their senator to vote down the bill.

Cheryl Schaefle, an organizer for Indivisible Fargo-Moorhead, says her group organized protests at Sen. Hoeven's office and sent him stories detailing the positive effects of Obamacare. She says the proposed cuts to Medicaid in the GOP bill will hurt rural states such as North Dakota.

"There are rural hospitals in North Dakota that especially depend on Medicaid for their patients, for getting paid, and there's fears that some of those rural hospitals will have to close," she explains. "So, we're not talking just about health care. We're talking jobs."

A vote on the Senate version of the bill is scheduled to take place after the July 4 recess.

A Congressional Budget Office score of the Senate bill as it was originally proposed said 22 million fewer Americans would have health care by 2026.

Hoeven says people need more choices for their insurance and that there needs to be more competition in the market to make care affordable.

North Dakota's other senator, Democrat Heidi Heitkamp, says 90,000 residents of the state rely on Medicaid and that the bills introduced by the House and Senate are "cruel."

Schaefle says health care is a fundamental right.

"If you look at the Declaration of Independence, it's 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,' and health care is at the very foundation of those three things," she says.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ND