Lone Republican to Vote for DFL Healthcare Amendment Defends Decision

Sen. Scott Jensen defied his party to vote for a DFL buy-in proposal.

ST. PAUL, Minn. – A Minnesota state senator is defending his decision after being the sole Republican to vote for a DFL amendment to a healthcare bill Wednesday evening.

Sen. Scott Jensen (R – Carvery County), one of two medical doctors in the Senate, tied a vote on an amendment to the Republican healthcare reinsurance bill at 33-33. The proposed amendment would offer Minnesotans living outside the Twin Cities metro area an option to buy-in to the state-run MinnesotaCare program.

“I assume that I’ll experience some blow back, I can live with that,” Jensen said,, “I didn’t run to make friends with Republicans in St. Paul, I ran to fix some problems, and to see if we could somehow provide healthcare for everybody in Minnesota, at least some basic plan, and if people think less of me, I can live with that.”

Jensen’s vote would have passed the amendment had all members of the Senate been present. Sen. Ann Rest (DFL – New Hope) was not present for the vote. Had she voted along party lines the measure would have passed.

Jensen says Rest’s presence would not have changed his vote. He hoped the amendment would pass on to a conference committee where legislators could make changes to it as they saw fit.

Jensen says lawmakers need to focus on three areas when it comes to healthcare: reform, relief, and access. He believes the DFL amendment addressed the “access” portion.  

“I voted for it because that would provide the access piece that we know we need to do,” Jensen said, “Every Minnesotan should be able to get health care within thirty minutes of where they live and that isn’t happening now. If we finish up in May and we don’t have at least an option, at least one option in every county, we will have failed Minnesotans.”

The broader “reinsurance” bill that originally prompted the amendment vote passed the Senate 37-29.

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