Local Health Care Advocates Join Protect Our Care to Call for an End to GOP Attacks on North Dakotans’ Health Care

Jennifer Westemeyer holds up a photo of her daughter, Allison, in Fargo.

NORTH DAKOTA – Today, Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour arrived in North Dakota to call attention to the ongoing Republican war on health care care. Headlined by State Senator Jim Dotzenrod, former State Senator Mac Schneider, and cancer survivor Laura Packard, events in Bismarck and Fargo highlighted the actions Republicans are taking to harm North Dakotans’ care and called on Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem to work instead to protect our care.

“The House has voted 65 times to take away protections for pre-existing conditions,” said State Senator Jim Dotzenrod,” who went on to voice his disagreement with Attorney General Stenehjem’s decision to join the GOP-backed lawsuit seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act. “If that is successful, it will take about $27 million away from rural hospitals in this state, and that hit will be the end of the road for many hospitals. We cannot take a hit like that.”

Senator Dotzenrod’s anguish was shared by former State Senator Schneider.

“There’s scarcely a more personal kitchen table issue than health care,” said Schneider. “Something I see over and over again are hard-working North Dakotans who through no fault of their own are diagnosed with cancer or diabetes or another condition… The important protections for North Dakotans are threatened through this unwise lawsuit brought by a group of attorneys down in Texas.”

The consequences of such a decision were made clear by West Fargo resident Jennifer Restemeyer, whose daughter Allison was born with a rare genetic disorder.

“In 2010, she was at $1.75 million of her $2 million max that our employer-based insurance company had for her. We didn’t know what we were going to do,” Restemeyer said. “Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, she was able to stay on our health care and receive the medication that is keeping her as healthy as she is now,”

Restemeyer’s story of benefitting under the ACA was echoed by Packard, who explained why the bus tour is traveling 11,000 miles across country.

“I’m alive because of the Affordable Care Act,” said Packard. “I’m a stage four cancer survivor and I’m on this tour to defend our attacks against the GOP. President Trump may have blocked me on Twitter, but he can’t stop me and the American people from fighting to protect our care.”

State Senator Dotzenrod, former State Senator Scheider, Restemeyer, and Packard were joined by Suzy Fitterer, whose daughters were born as conjoined twins and underwent extensive care, which she worries would be jeopardized should health care be repealed, and Kristie Wolff, whose son was born with autism, a lifelong pre-existing condition, whose care could be at risk if Republicans get their way.

At today’s event, North Dakota residents, health care advocates, elected officials, and members of Protect Our Care detailed the numbers ways in which Republicans have attacked health care, and how these actions have cut coverage and increased costs for North Dakotans. Because of the Republican repeal-and-sabotage agenda:

  • North Dakotans will see their premiums rise by an average of 7.4 percent next year. It’s expected that 40 year old North Dakotans will face paying an extra $990 for marketplace coverage in 2019 because of Republican sabotage of the health care market.
  • In North Dakota, out of pocket costs for older people could have increased by as much as $11,461 by 2026 if the House-passed American Health Care Act had become law.
  • North Dakota expanded Medicaid under the ACA and the 20,000 North Dakotans who have gained coverage because of this program would find their care at risk if the law were repealed.
  • Junk insurance plans that charge money for skimpy coverage could return to North Dakota and 14,000 North Dakotans could lack comprehensive coverage in 2019 because they will either become uninsured or will be enrolled in junk plans that don’t provide key health benefits.
  • 20,000 North Dakotans who have obtained health insurance through the ACA marketplace could lose their coverage if a judge sides with North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, President Trump and the GOP in their lawsuit; and protections for 316,000 North Dakotans living with a pre-existing condition would be in jeopardy.
  • Hundreds of billions of dollars have been cut from Medicare.
  • Dozens of hospitals in rural areas have closed, exacerbating the care and coverage gaps that exist for families in America’s rural communities.
  • Representative Kevin Cramer voted for and passed a health care repeal bill that would cause 23 million people to lose coverage and gut protections for people with pre-existing condition; voted for a budget amendment that would cut Medicaid by $700 billion over ten years, $114 billion in a single year alone; voted for a tax scam that doubled as a sneaky repeal of the Affordable Care Act  by kicking 13 million people off of their insurance and raising premiums by double digits for millions more.

Tomorrow, “Care Force One” will head to Billings, Montana. For more information, please visit protectourcarebustour.com.