On Air
0:00
0:00
Open In Popup
MPR News

Whether political victory or disappointment, some Minnesotans still hope for health care changes

Share story

Following news that the Republicans'  health care bill would not advance, some Minnesotans were quick to applaud the development, while others expressed disappointment that Obamacare would remain the law of the land.

But many in both parties are still hoping to see improvements to the healthcare system.

Democratic Congresswoman Betty McCollum had scheduled a town hall at Macalester College for Saturday morning, not knowing whether the bill would pass or not.

Saturday morning, she addressed a supportive, mostly pleased crowd.

"Now that was a victory.... It was a victory for all of America and it was a victory for all of us," she said.

McCollum said she was disappointed the president has not worked with her party to improve Obamacare.

"We do know it needs a little repair, it needs some improvement and we need to strengthen it," she said. 

David Harrington, a residential remodeling contractor from St. Paul, was among those at McCollum's town hall.

He said he's a supporter of improvements to the country's healthcare system under President Obama, but he's worried about health care costs.

He and his wife are self employed, and have seen their premiums triple since 2014, forcing them to buy a lower cost plan.

"I think it needs to be fixed, and I'm concerned that if our premiums keep going up that we'll really think hard about going to work for somebody else who has health benefits," he said, urging McCollum and her colleagues to work to find a solution, such as a single-payer, universal healthcare system. "What I'm asking from you and your colleagues is that you bring new legislation and work with the new administration to help offset these rises."

Across town at a Republican rally at the Capitol, Lawrence Tyson of White Bear Lake, said he was disappointed in the rollout of the bill.

"In my personal opinion it was totally mismanaged," he said. "They didn't really have a solid plan, from what I heard. I'm sure I didn't hear everything, but I think Speaker (Paul) Ryan should've brought it to at least all the factions within at least the Republican party, which as I understand he didn't."

Tyson said healthcare needs to be addressed.

"They need to fix it. Either fix that, or come up with a new program," he said. 

State Republican party chair Keith Downey said he wasn't all that surprised the initial bill didn't make it to a vote. He said major healthcare changes took decades for Democrats to push through congress.

"So to think that somehow you could magically just fix it with one quick bill running through the House and Senate might have been been overly optimistic," he said. "And again, as I've said before, this is really the starting line, not the finish line for the Obamacare repeal."

Downey said the debate over the bill showed the variety of opinions within the GOP, which he thinks is a strength and will ultimately make for a strong bill. 

He expects healthcare will be addressed, but that it is one of many legislative priorities for the party.