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Minnesota Leaders Call Out Trump’s Failed Leadership on Health Care Ahead of Vice Presidential Debate


Ahead of the vice presidential debate tonight, DFL leaders spoke out about Trump’s failed leadership on health care in the time of national crisis, and its continued attacks on coverage for pre-existing conditions and reproductive health. The call featured DFL Party Chair Ken Martin; Attorney General Keith Ellison; Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota President Sarah Stoesz; Morrison Food Service Lead at Mayo Clinic Barb Andrew; and Chisholm resident Dawn Burfin.

Excerpts from the call

DFL Party Chair Ken Martin: “So let me just be very clear, though, as we frame up not only what we expect to hear tonight, but also in the coming days this election is and has always been about health care. The health care of millions of Americans continues to be at stake with Mike Pence and Donald Trump in office. As you know, Trump’s health care plan has been clear for these last four years, which is to tear away health care from tens of millions of Americans and strip protections from as many as 133 million Americans who have pre-existing conditions including, by the way, cancer survivors, and potentially people with long lasting complications of COVID-19.”

Attorney General Keith Ellison: “So many things are on the line, the Affordable Care Act is on the line. You know that a fair economy is on the line. You know that workers rights, the environment and climate are on the line. You know, all these things. But the fact is, do we know — and can we transmit to others — that there’s something we can do about it? That’s the issue, because people know things are at risk. But do they know that we have the power to change this thing around if we commit, and if we work hard, and if we reach out to one more person. So I’m just going to tell you, I’m not even on the ballot. But I’m saying, you know, let’s put time, energy and resources to going to every single inch of the state of Minnesota to make sure we have full participation, not just a presidential, turn that ballot over. Flip it on over. We got judges that are on the line. And as the federal bench has gotten far more, right wing and conservative, are state court judges, we absolutely need to be strong.”

Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota President Sarah Stoesz: “And I’m thinking of a woman whose story I encountered this summer, she’s a young mother Minnesotan, who has two children. And her youngest child, who’s two years old, has cancer, and is undergoing extensive chemotherapy treatment. This young mother became pregnant and she decided that it was in the best interest of her family, and her children — especially the youngest who she cares for — that she had an abortion. She had to drive three and a half hours each way in the age of COVID with her children in the car without stopping to see a doctor here in the Twin Cities who could help her. And she knew that she needed to take this step, she expressed that she would do whatever it took so that she could care for her children and her family and get the health care that she needed. And now there are 17 cases currently winding their way through the courts of appeals in this country that would undermine access to that kind of care that this particular person needed. Threats are very, very real to women’s health.”

Morrison Food Service Lead at Mayo Clinic Barb Andrew: “I have been working as a food service worker for 19 years at Mayo Clinic. And these are my opinions. And this is my story. But last April when COVID was really getting rampant. I was getting terrified because I have a pre-existing condition, rheumatoid arthritis, and the medication that I take for rheumatoid arthritis brings down my immune system…And it was like we often felt disposable at the time. And I felt scared and terrified to go to work every day. Because what was I exposing myself to who was I coming into contact with. And I felt like my government didn’t care….Then Mike Pence comes down, goes downtown at the Mayo Clinic walking around without a mask on. And I’m just feeling insulted and angry and there’s so many emotions going on. What is he bringing in and how insulting to me there’s something that we pleaded with and we worked so hard to get and that my health and my coworkers health didn’t matter.”

Chisholm resident Dawn Burfin: “I’m pretty upset about Trump still fighting so hard about taking away, you know, or trying to strike down the ACA, because I and all five of my children have a pre-existing condition. I have more than one. Couple of my kids have more than one. But the main one that we have is a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos. The kids all have it to varying degrees. But it not only messes with your joints, anything that has connective tissue, your eyes, your heart…So it just really angers me to think that some people don’t think that we are worth anything, that the people that have pre-existing conditions that we don’t matter that are almost like we’re disposable, or unworthy. And so, I’m really pissed about that. That’s what gets me.”