We are seeing immense interest in WE Rise scheduled for Monday, March 11th as well as the advocacy training on Sunday, March 10th. The interest has been so strong that we secured more room for Sunday and are able to take more registrations. If you tried to register and it was full, try again, we have more room. www.standupnd.org
The weekly update comes to you a day early, because the Legislature adjourned at noon today for a 4 day break after crossover. Here is the updated tracking grid.
We’ve experienced some great wins this week. On the Federal level, the Senate and House both passed a comprehensive version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Every member of our delegation voted yes for the bill. Heidi Heitkamp was a co-sponsor and champion of the bill. Hoeven and Cramer both voted yes. All three deserve a thanks for those votes.
Contact Senator Heidi Heitkamp to thank her for her leadership on the legislation.
Contact Senator John Hoeven and Representative Kevin Cramer to thank them for their votes in favor of VAWA:
On the state level, the House defeated 1466, which would have diverted funds from public schools to private schools, by a vote of 31-63. The Senate passed 2229, providing grants to early childhood education, by a vote of 35-12. The House also passed Medicaid expansion 1362. This is an immense win for the state.
ROLL CALL VOTE
The question being on the final passage of the amended bill, which includes Division A and Division B, which have been read, the roll was called and there were 57 YEAS, 36 NAYS, 0 EXCUSED, 1 ABSENT AND NOT VOTING.
YEAS: Amerman; Anderson; Beadle; Boe; Boehning; Boschee; Delmore; Dosch; Fehr; Frantsvog; Glassheim; Gruchalla; Guggisberg; Haak; Hanson; Hatlestad; Hawken; Heilman; Hofstad; Hogan; Holman; Hunskor; Johnson, D.; Johnson, N.; Keiser; Kelsh, J.; Kelsh, S.; Klein; Klemin; Kretschmar; Kreun; Laning; Larson; Maragos; Martinson; Meier; Mock; Monson; Mooney; Muscha; Nelson, J.; Nelson, M.; Onstad; Oversen; Owens; Paur; Porter; Sanford; Silbernagel; Strinden; Sukut; Trottier; Wall; Weisz; Williams; Zaiser; Speaker Devlin
NAYS: Becker; Bellew; Belter; Brabandt; Brandenburg; Carlson; Damschen; Delzer; Dockter; Drovdal; Froseth; Grande; Headland; Heller; Karls; Kasper; Kempenich; Kiefert; Koppelman, B.; Koppelman, K.; Kreidt; Looysen; Louser; Nathe; Pollert; Rohr; Ruby;
• By NICK SMITH | Bismarck Tribune
BISMARCK, N.D. - The North Dakota House, after a lengthy debate on the impact of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, passed a bill Wednesday afternoon providing for Medicaid expansion.
House Bill 1362 passed the House by a 57-36 vote after more than 30 minutes of debate.
HB1362 has five sections. Along with expanding Medicaid, HB1362 also allows the Department of Human Services to implement the expansion and provides an effective date of Jan. 1, 2014, and a sunset of July 31, 2017.
HB1362 also calls for an interim study on the impacts of the Affordable Care Act. The study would include alternatives to the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion in order to make health care more affordable. Study results and recommendations would be provided to the Legislature for the 2015 session.
The bulk of Wednesday’s floor debate came after Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, asked to divide the bill into two portions. He made a motion to vote on the interim study separate from the other sections of the bill.
Becker spoke in opposition to Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act as a whole. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, an organization that analyzes health care policy, North Dakota could see up to 32,000 new Medicaid enrollees. The North Dakota Department of Human Services’ estimate is closer to 20,500. Becker said the Legislature needed to consider what it was doing very carefully.
“There’s no need to rush here because of the federal guidelines,” Becker said.
Becker added that the law increases health care costs that providers pass on to consumers. He said it also negatively affects employers.
“It’s going to be harder and harder for employers to provide their employees with insurance,” Becker said.
Rep. Robin Weisz, R-Hurdsfield, said while he’s no fan of the Affordable Care Act, he believed the Human Services Committee’s work would soften the blow of Medicaid expansion and rising insurance costs.
“They will be added to the rolls whether we go ahead or not,” Weisz said. “This bill will slow that (cost) increase.”
Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Fargo, said he saw the Medicaid expansion as a way to shift the costs for the program to the states.
“I don’t think we should be expanding Medicaid at this time,” Kasper said.
Rep. Todd Porter, R-Mandan, said he’s never been a fan of the Affordable Care Act and never will be. He asked lawmakers to consider the hundreds of millions of dollars per year being lost in North Dakota for uncollectible bad debt for health care. Porter said throughout the state, particularly in the oil patch, medical centers are asking for help to address bad debt.
“The population that this bill is attempting to help are the most vulnerable among us,” Porter said.
Rep. Chet Pollert, R-Carrington, said Human Services already addresses the state’s vulnerable population. Pollert noted that earlier in the day the department’s budget was passed, the largest state government budget.
“We take care of the most vulnerable in the state of North Dakota to the tune of $2.8 billion,” Pollert said.
Pollert said he would be voting against expanding Medicaid.
Rep. Dan Ruby, R-Minot, questioned the expansion of the state’s safety net. He asked why the state sets a poverty level if it’s constantly expanded.
“For too many people with the safety net, they turn it into a hammock,” Ruby said.
No Democratic members of the House spoke on the two divisions of the bill.
After Ruby had spoken, the first division of the bill including all but the interim study passed by a 58-35 vote. The second division — consisting of the interim study — passed moments later by 93-0.
House Majority Leader Al Carlson, R-Fargo, then spoke on HB1362 before the final vote on its passage.
“There’s no such thing as free money ... It’s our tax dollars recycled back to us,” Carlson said.
Carlson said he expects the Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act to cost far more than anyone expects in the long run. He said the amendments made to HB1362 add some safeguards for the state to minimize the impacts of expanding Medicaid.
“I didn’t introduce this because I want it to pass; (but) I like it a little better today,” Carlson said.