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Milwaukee’s Obamacare Honor Reignites Political Debate Over Health Care Law

City Gets Presidential Visit For Winning Insurance Enrollment Contest

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AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

President Barack Obama is in Milwaukee Thursday to congratulate the city for winning a federal health insurance sign up contest during the latest open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act.

Democratic Mayor Tom Barrett said he welcomes the president’s visit but many state Republican leaders, including Gov. Scott Walker, continue to criticize Obamacare.

Milwaukee won a Healthy Communities Challenge by getting about 38,000 people insured under the federal program. Walker said greater enrollment is good, but the complaints he says he hears about the law are bad.

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“What we hear routinely from small business owners and farmers across the state is that it’s anything but affordable,” Walker said. “They’ve actually seen their health care costs go on up dramatically even with the so-called Affordable Care Act.”

The governor said Wisconsin has expanded its state Medicaid program, BadgerCare Plus, without relying on available Obamacare money that Walker argues isn’t sustainable. Milwaukee’s Barrett contends that decision has left Wisconsin missing the boat.

“The part that should be most disturbing is that they are turning their back on so much money that could come here,” Barrett said. “And at a time when this state is stressed in many, many areas, those dollars could be used for health care, they could be used for education, they could be used for property tax relief.”

No federal or state program is guaranteed forever, Barrett said, but that doesn’t mean money should be left on the table.

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