October 22, 2014

D.C. delegation remains divided on health care

Wisconsin’s congressional delegation remains sharply divided on health care reform, mirroring the partisan divide in Congress as a whole. Implement and adjust, or repeal and replace? That’s the chasm between Democrats and Republicans in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding key provisions of President Obama’s health care reforms, the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act.

“The tools that will enable us to make important changes in the way health care is delivered in our country, and how we pay for it, are still in place,” said Representative Ron Kind during a media conference call on Thursday. “The challenge remains in being able to move forward in a constructive fashion, to do it the right way and not the wrong way. I’ve never believed, that with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, that that was the end-all, be-all when it came to all the answers within the health care system, It’s going to require all of us working together, to figure out what works and what doesn’t work, and make adjustments along the way.”

The only adjustment Republican Paul Ryan of Janesville wants to see is the repeal and replacement of the health care reforms, which his party refers to as “Obamacare.” Ryan said the law will add to the federal deficit while diminishing the quality of health care. “While we find did the ruling did claim that there’s a limit to what the government can do to mandate peoples’ behavior, they apparently claim that you can tax people into what they can and cannot do, and I find that troubling,” Ryan told reporters Thursday. “That’s why it’s ultimately going to come down to what the American people want, after this next election.”

In order for Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare, they’ll need to achieve a Senate majority, put Mitt Romney in the White House, and achieve consensus among themselves. Ryan insists that’s possible. “We’re going to do it in a methodical, transparent, step by step way,” he said. “Lots of us, myself included, have offered very detailed replacement legislation on how best to have a patient-centered healthcare system, where everybody has access to affordable healthcare.”

“Today’s ruling by justices appointed by Presidents of both parties is an independent legal judgment,” said a statement from Representative Tammy Baldwin, the Madison Democrat who’s a candidate for the U.S. Senate being vacated by Herb Kohl. “It is now time to come together and make this work I disagree with those who want to rip up the decision of an independent court and start over.”

“I believe the Supreme Court made the right decision today. There is much more work to be done in controlling health care costs, but the Affordable Care Act brings us closer to providing health care to all Americans at a cost we can afford,” said a statement from Kohl. ” Under the bill, nearly 60,000 Wisconsin seniors on Medicare have already saved almost $38 million in prescription drug costs, more than 43,000 of our state’s young adults have gained health insurance coverage, more than 400,000 women now have access to preventive cancer screenings and no one can be denied coverage for a preexisting condition.”

“I join the millions of Americans today who are disappointed with this decision. The individual mandate is a massive infringement on our freedom, and it’s bad policy,” said a statement from Representative Jim Sensenbrenner. “The President and Congressional Democrats own a huge tax increase on the American public. If this bill would have been described as a tax three years ago, it would have gone down in flames in Congress. The health care law’s taxes and mandates are making it harder to create jobs. Its budgeting gimmicks will bankrupt our country. It’s both failing to curb health care costs and forcing up to 35 million Americans to lose their employer-provided health insurance. The President’s health care law and massive tax increase needs to be repealed in full if we are going to get our economy back on track.”

“It’s going to be vitally important,” to begin implementing the law, Kind argued. “In order to get our economy back on track creating good-paying jobs. If the court had gone the other way, it would have sent us back to square one. It would have given us the status quo, and we know what that would have brought.”

Despite the Supreme Court upholding key provisions, Governor Scott Walker said Thursday, Wisconsin will not take any action to implement health care reforms until after the election. “He says he’s going to sit around and wait until after November, to make a decision whether or not to implement the law, but especially the important health insurances exchanges that I think we need to start moving forward on, to get things in place by 2014,” said Kind. “I think the election will adjudicate the outcome of this law, and that’s why if I were a governor I would wait until after the election,” said Ryan.