Greg Hodur, Published January 29 2011
Berg health care repeal vote ushers in ‘North Dakota Inc.’If announcement by U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., that he would not seek re-election in 2012 signaled the official end of “Team North Dakota,” Congressman Rick Berg’s vote in favor of repealing the health reform law officially ushered in the era of “North Dakota Inc.”
Make no mistake: As Democratic-NPL Chairman Mark Schneider and state Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo, eloquently argued in previous op-eds, Berg turned his back on thousands of individuals, families, senior citizens, small-business owners and their employees in our state who are and would benefit from the new law.
People with pre-existing conditions can buy insurance thanks to the law, parents can pay to cover their children up to age 26, and people with insurance cannot be canceled because they get sick. To some, like Berg, that apparently is “socialized medicine.”
Maybe you don’t fall into one of those categories and you don’t care. But whatever your situation, one thing to consider is that Berg also voted to repeal the “Frontier Amendment” that Team North Dakota insisted be included in the health reform law. That amendment promised our hospitals, rural and urban, fairer payments from Medicare for treating our senior citizens and disabled. Without it, jobs are likely to be lost in our health care sector, and insurance rates will rise for those of us who have insurance or pay for health care. That will affect the medical care we all receive.
Maybe Berg didn’t consider that. But I don’t think so. He’s just paying back the Chamber of Commerce, managed-care conglomerates, insurance companies and other interests that finance Republican candidates. You don’t get a seat as a freshman on the powerful U.S. House Ways and Means Committee without promising to be a loyal vote for the party leadership, regardless of what’s good for your constituents.
Every hospital administrator, board member, physician, nurse, and hospital worker – and everyone who thinks they might need their services sometime in the future – should question Berg about his position on health care. After all, even Republicans said during the health reform debate, “Doing nothing is not an option.”