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Cramer, Peterson on opposing sides of Obamacare repeal vote

U.S. Reps Kevin Cramer, R-ND, and Collin Peterson, D-MN. (Herald graphic/Sam Easter)

GRAND FORKS—Reps. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., and Collin Peterson, D-Minn., were on opposite sides of Thursday's health care vote in the U.S. House to repeal and replace Obamacare.

The 217-213 vote approved a new version of the American Health Care Act, a Republican health plan which was pulled from consideration before a vote in March amid worries that it would fail. In the interim, Republicans have added key changes to the bill to help broaden support, such as an amendment to increase funding to cover those with pre-existing conditions—though Democrats have warned that the bill will cost many their health insurance.

According to a statement issued by Cramer's office, the congressman "describes (the bill) as a rescue mission to save Americans from a very sick health care law." In the statement, Cramer highlighted points such as the bill's repeal of Obamacare's individual mandate and an assortment of tax cuts.

"I have heard from many North Dakotans, especially seniors and those in rural areas who lost access to insurance markets and were burdened by increasing premiums and skyrocketing deductibles," Cramer said in the statement. "The AHCA will bring them relief through affordable, patient-centered health coverage by encouraging greater marketplace competition between health insurance companies."

But the effects of the bill are hard to pinpoint. The Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan entity that provides estimates on the impact of legislation, has not yet provided updated estimates on the bill's impact, which are due out as soon as next week. Cramer could not be directly reached for comment.

Peterson called the bill "even worse" than the first draft of the AHCA and arguing that the bill will not help with "skyrocketing premiums" or with high deductibles.

"Over the last few months I met with hospitals, doctors and constituents from across the district with concerns about the bill, including the significant cuts to Medicaid funding and eligibility which would hurt our state," he said. "This political exercise today only delays the inevitable bipartisan work which will be needed to fix our health-care system."

Members of Congress throughout Minnesota were also divided on the issue. Reps. Erik Paulsen, Tom Emmer and Jason Lewis, all Republicans, voted for the bill. Democrats Tim Walz, Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison and Rick Nolan voted against the bill.

Sam Easter

Sam Easter is a City Government reporter for the Grand Forks Herald. You can reach him with story tips, comments and ideas at 701-330-3441.

(701) 780-1108
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