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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, June 21, 2024

Baldwin criticizes Obamacare repeal in Madison appearance

As Senate Republicans consider new legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., held a press conference Sunday to criticize the effort, and encourage continued public pressure in opposition to it.

The bill, sponsored by U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Bill Cassidy, R-La., would allow states to waive many of the requirements laid out in the Affordable Care Act, such as preventing insurance companies from charging more for those with pre-existing conditions, and ensuring coverage of ten “essential health benefits” like maternity care, hospitalization and children’s health.

It would also end the income-based subsidies and individual mandate established by the ACA, and would cap and restructure Medicaid funding, cutting almost $300 billion from federal health funding by 2027.

“I’m here this morning to say that this is not a fire drill,” Baldwin said. “Let us make sure that through speaking out, through calling your [senators], through telling your story, that we ensure all of our citizens, our children and our elders have access to affordable healthcare.”

Standing with Baldwin at the press conference was Joanne Juhnke, a Wisconsin mother, whose child, Miriam, has epilepsy, autism and linear nevus sebaceous syndrome, a rare genetic condition.

Miriam’s speech and occupational therapy, co-pays and respite care are all provided at least in part by Medicaid. Miriam’s medications are covered under her parents’ insurance plan under current law, but once she ages out of eligibility, Medicaid will provide them.

“The Graham-Cassidy proposal throws a great cloud of uncertainty over her future and ours,” Juhnke said. “For Miriam, her next breath, and the one after that, depend on those expensive medications.”

Proponents of the bill, however, argue that it would give states necessary flexibility in decision-making, allowing them to tailor policy implementation to local needs.

“This would be hugely beneficial for Wisconsin,” said Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “I truly believe that governors and state legislators would do a better job at managing healthcare in their states.”

Johnson was an early cosponsor of the Graham-Cassidy bill.

“While Wisconsin Republicans are fighting for reform, Senator Baldwin is once again picking Washington over Wisconsin,” said Alec Zimmerman, communications director for the Wisconsin GOP.

Republicans are eager to vote before budget reconciliation expires at the end of the month. Senate procedure would require they have more than a simple majority for passage.

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GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona has already announced his opposition to the bill, and Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Rand Paul, R-Ky. and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, have admitted they likely cannot support it in its current state.

With a majority of 52 seats, Republicans can afford no more than two defections.

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