Op-Ed from Former MN Senator Warns of Repeal Pitfalls

ST. PAUL, Minn.- David Durenberger, a former MN GOP Senator said current Senators should vote against the repeal of Obamacare.

Durenberger characterized the current vote in an op-ed to USA Today, as a vote of unknowns. The former senator started his op-ed by alluding to a bill he was confronted with under the Carter administration. The bill would have limited the hospital budgets via Medicare and Medicaid. Durenberger voted against this bill. “I decided to vote against it as it would end up hurting the people of my state and was inconsistent with my beliefs. And then, after the vote, we — Democrats and Republicans — launched an effort to learn how best to change the cost curve of the entire health system by focusing on how we pay for Medicare,” said Durenberger.  

He pointed out senators will vote “Without knowing what will be in the bill” and, “Without knowing what the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office will say about the impact of major amendments and the final bill on coverage and premiums.” Durenberger also indicated the senate would be voting to proceed, “With full knowledge that the Senate parliamentarian, who rules on what can and can’t be allowed in a budget bill, has said that the Senate must remove provisions intended to prevent an insurance market death spiral of sicker patients driving up costs.” While, Durenberger was skeptical about many other aspects of the vote, a final reason was that no hearings had been held on the bill currently being debated.

Durenberger was a senator from 1978 to 1995, during which he was the chairman of the Senate finance subcommittee on health. His comments may not be all that surprising, however, as he stated in an interview with Inside Minnesota Politics in 2005 that Democrats are ‘better equipped to carry the day’ in terms of health care policies. He also said during this interview that he was no longer siding with the Republican Party in general.

In 1995, Durenberger pleaded guilty to charges of misuse of public funds while in office.