ST. CLOUD -- A group of concerned local citizens held a peaceful rally Wednesday afternoon asking state leaders to pass their message to Congress to vote not to end the Affordable Care Act.

Several residents shared their personal stories on how the current health care system has helped their families.

Kathryn Schwartz Eckhardt says while her family has good health coverage, it took a frightening experience with her son who has a chronic respiratory condition, to realize others may be as lucky without the Affordable Care Act.

"My son is going to be fine because I can afford to take care of him. But millions of children rely on Medicaid and other public assistance to make sure they have access to care," says Schwartz Eckhardt.

The Senate left for recess without voting on a bill after the Congressional Budget Office estimated it would cause 22 million people to lose coverage.

Jim Magnuson spoke on how his fathers life was taken too early because he couldn't afford health care coverage.

"When he came down with pneumonia, because of his pride and fear of recurring more debt than he could pay, he didn't go to the hospital until it was too late," says Magnuson.

St. John's/St. Ben's professor Jim Read attended Tom Emmer's Town Hall meeting in February. He spoke to the crowd and said before the American Health Care Act was proposed, many people were concerned about what was to come.

"It was obvious from signs, stickers, conversations, and questions asked that people were extremely concerned about health care," says Read.

The rally was put on by the group Concerned Citizens of District 6, a group created to try and reach local lawmakers before Congress reconvenes to vote to end the Affordable Care Act.

Minnesota's top health care regulator said Wednesday changes to Medicaid funding could cost the state $2 billion in the first 18 months.

The Associated Press Contributed to this story

(Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON)