(BISMARCK, ND) – As Washington Republicans twist arms to garner support for the unpopular Graham-Cassidy health care bill that would raise costs and rip coverage away from thousands of North Dakotans, Senator Heidi Heitkamp has urged both sides to come together on common-sense, bipartisan solutions to improve health coverage and stabilize the insurance markets. She has worked for the past four-and-a-half years on many proposals to make the health reform law work better for North Dakotans. In addition to fighting to protect care for children with disabilities, seniors and North Dakotans with pre-existing conditions, here are 11 actions Senator Heitkamp has taken to try to fix what’s broken in health care:
- 1. Introduced the Addressing Affordability for More Americans Act this year, which would help more North Dakota families buy insurance through the individual market by making premium assistance more available for seniors, workers and middle-class families.
- 2. In 2013, listened to the concerns of North Dakotans through panels with small business owners and consumers – she also created a page on her website to answer questions about health care reform and direct North Dakotans to resources to obtain coverage.
- 3. In June, she led the charge on the Senate floor with 15 Democratic Senators urging bipartisan cooperation to immediately pass legislation to provide certainty in the insurance markets and lower health care premiums for North Dakotans.
- 4. This year, she again cosponsored the Commonsense Competition and Access to Health Insurance Act to request insurance regulators to analyze the effectiveness of selling health insurance across state lines.
- 5. In June of this year, supported and pushed for the Marketplace Stabilization Act to make premium assistance payments permanent and increase the eligibility and generosity of the benefit – this would bring more certainty to the marketplace and make health care more affordable and accessible for North Dakotans.
- 6. Introduced her bipartisan Small Business Healthcare Relief Act with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in 2015 to help employers offer health care reimbursement accounts to their employees. This bill was signed into law in December 2016.
- 7. Joined Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) in 2015 to introduce her bipartisan Restoring Access to Medication Act with to help make over-the-counter medications more affordable for North Dakota’s seniors and families. This bill was reintroduced this year.
- 8. In 2014, she unveiled a package of 9 pieces of legislation with five other Senators to make health insurance more affordable and the marketplace more competitive for consumers, offer relief for small businesses and workers, and improve access to quality plans for all Americans.
- 9. Successfully urged the Obama Administration in 2013 to delay the employer mandate until a sustainable plan was in place for businesses to provide coverage to their employees.
- 10. Supported the common-sense Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act, which would give small businesses more flexibility to provide affordable coverage to their workers. Senator Heitkamp also pressed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on this issue. This bill was signed into law in October 2015.
- 11. Fought to protect access to preventive care – such as mammogram screenings – at no out-of-pocket costs, by leading a bipartisan and bicameral letter to the Department of Health and Human Services and supporting the Protecting Access to Lifesaving Screenings Act in 2015.
“While Washington is in yet another partisan food-fight over health care, it’s refreshing that Senator Heitkamp is continuing to offer real solutions – just as she has for years – to bring stability to the insurance markets and improve health care for North Dakotans,” said Democratic-NPL chairwoman Kylie Oversen. “Rural states like North Dakota face a lot of challenges when it comes to health care, and the recent Graham-Cassidy bill would only make access to health care even worse. Senator Heitkamp has shown great leadership by staying laser-focused on common-sense solutions, not politics – I hope Kevin Cramer and Tom Campbell will join her in supporting these bipartisan, pro-North Dakota reforms.”