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Rounds, Thune promise to keep working toward Obamacare reform

WASHINGTON — South Dakota’s duo of Republican U.S. senators aren’t giving up on health care reform.

Following a failed late-night bid to repeal portions of the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds still see the need to fix the law commonly known as Obamacare.

“We’ve promised the American people that we will repeal and replace this failing law with health care reforms that actually work,” Thune said in a written statement. “It is imperative that Congress makes good on this promise, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that we do.”

Friday morning’s vote was the culmination of months-long talks to repeal and replace Obamacare, which many Republicans have said is driving up the cost of health insurance premiums throughout the nation. But in the wee hours of the night, a vote to repeal a few measures of the law like the individual and employer mandates, the vote failed 49-51.

Like Thune, Rounds remains dead-set on improving the ACA.

“The fight to relieve American families from our current failing health care system is far from over,” Rounds said. “I will continue working with my colleagues to stabilize the insurance markets and prevent premiums from continuing to skyrocket.”

Rounds said the cost of health care for South Dakotans has risen 124 percent in the last four years, causing insurance companies to “leave the marketplace in droves.” And according to a New York Times report on Thursday, only 7,000 people younger than 65 became insured in South Dakota from 2010 to 2015 — the lowest total in the nation.

But the South Dakota Democratic Party sees the overnight vote as a victory for the nation and the state.

“It is also a victory for the millions of people, including thousands of South Dakotans, who made calls, sent letters and emails, and raised their voices to let their representatives know that they did not want their premiums to go up and health care to be taken away from them or their friends and family,” said the S.D. Democratic Party in a written statement shortly after the vote.

The vote was supported by three Senate Republicans and 48 Democrats. Those three Republicans didn’t include Rounds or Thune, who both said Americans “deserve better” than the ACA.

“The law is collapsing under its own weight, and the American people deserve better,” Thune said. “While this legislative effort was not successful, the problems caused by Obamacare are not going away.”