Pocan: Latest ACA Repeal Bill Is Full Of Holes

Opponents Speak Out Against Graham-Cassidy Bill Up For Vote Next Week

Mark Pocan
Shamane Mills/WPR

Opponents of the Republican’s latest plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act say it’s not an adequate replacement of the bill.

“While it blocks grant money to the states, it leaves a whole bunch of potential holes along the way,” said U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, during a press conference Thursday at the state Capitol.

The bill replaces money currently spent on ACA subsidies and Medicaid expansion with reduced federal funding and gives states more control over that money.

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“It would allow a state to decide whether it’s going to cover pre-existing conditions,” Pocan said.

Gov. Scott Walker initially indicated in May that he was open to a waiver in the House ACA repeal that would allow higher charges for those with pre-existing conditions. The governor then changed his mind after facing significant backlash.

“Ultimately he gave the perfect politician answer of, ‘Well, we don’t know what the final version of the bill is, so I can’t comment on it.’ Here’s the bottom line: (this time) we know what the bill is. This bill will have to go to the House and be approved exactly as it passed the Senate. There’s no wiggle room or waffle time,” Pocan said.

Wednesday the trade group for health insurers, America’s Health Insurance Plans, joined doctors and hospital groups in opposing the bill.

“Everybody is against this bill: physicians, professional organizations, hospitals, insurers and pretty much any healthcare expert you talk to,” said Madison family doctor Jeff Huebner. “And the reason is because of the toll of human suffering.”

Dane County resident Cassie Krajnik said her family relies on protections offered by ACA. Appearing at the press conference with her 5-year old son, Owen, Cassie said he was born with a congenital heart defect and has had three open heart surgeries.

“If this clause about the pre-existing conditions disappears, (my son Owen) could die. He needs his medical care to live,” Krajnik said. “We could go bankrupt trying to keep him alive. It’s not a situation any parent should ever be in.”

There is no official Congressional Budget Office assessment yet — and won’t be — by the time the Senate is expected to vote next week, but coverage losses run as high as $32 million based on similar repeal bills that were scored by the CBO.

Ten governors recently wrote to Senate leaders expressing their opposition to the Graham-Cassidy bill. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, who is a co-sponsor, said in an interview Thursday on MSNBC “Morning Joe” that other governors want federal block grants to spend as they see fit.

“From my standpoint there’s an awful lot of governors who have come out in favor of (the House repeal), including Gov. Scott Walker, because this will be hugely beneficial for Wisconsin,” said Johnson.

That’s because the new bill takes federal money originally given to states to expand Medicaid and redistributes it to states like Wisconsin that chose not to expand.

Huebner sees the bill as doing more harm than good.

“Instead of fixing shortcomings of the bill, it pulls the rug out from under people,” Huebner said.