Last-minute changes could be coming to a state bill that would provide guaranteed health insurance coverage to people with pre-existing conditions in Wisconsin.
Speaking on Wisconsin Public Radio’s "The Morning Show" on Monday, state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said last week's meeting with Democratic Gov. Tony Evers might bear fruit.
Evers had previously said the Republican-backed bill didn't do enough to protect Wisconsin consumers. He has argued for additional language in the measure that would bar insurance companies from having annual and lifetime limits on coverage, among other things.
"I think we will potentially add some of Gov. Evers' ideas in there," Vos said. "That's the way things are supposed to happen."
In particular, Vos called the annual and lifetime limits provision "reasonable."
However, the speaker rebuffed some of Evers' other wish-list items, including guaranteed coverage for specific treatments, particularly some for mothers and newborns, and required coverage for prescription medications. Vos said he wants to keep the legislation from straying from the subject of pre-existing conditions. He believes those measures might do so.
"We’re going to try very hard to focus on the issue of pre-existing conditions," Vos said.
Also speaking on "The Morning Show," Democratic Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, said the pre-existing conditions bill, as it is now, doesn't do enough.
"This is really a ‘feel good’ measure," Hintz said. "If you're interested in protecting pre-existing conditions … the only way to do that is to preserve Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act. There's nothing the state can do that remotely comes close to preserving pre-existing condition coverage."
Hintz pointed out Wisconsin Republicans back a federal lawsuit that seeks to strike down the federal Affordable Care Act.
Vos Responds To Federal Rulings Against GOP
The speaker also weighed in on two federal court rulings last week, including one that struck down GOP-backed restrictions on early voting in Wisconsin.
The restrictions were passed during December’s lame-duck session of the Legislature. The legislation would have limited early voting to 14 days in Wisconsin, but a federal judge found the new law violated a 2016 ruling that barred a similar 10-day restriction.
Vos called the decision "disappointing" and pointed out some states don’t offer any early voting opportunities.
"If certain places don’t have it at all, it makes no sense to me to say that with a greatly expanded role from where we were in our first efforts that it would be unconstitutional," he said.
He also pushed back on another federal ruling from last week that found he and other Republican lawmakers violated the First Amendment rights of a liberal advocacy group when they blocked the organization on Twitter.
Vos said the decision raises privacy concerns.
"This is really something that every person who’s listening should be worried about if you care about any semblance of privacy," he said. "I think to be able to say that, as an elected official, that we have no ability to have private accounts. I think that is a far-reaching decision that no one would ever want. Who would want to run for office if it allows people who are paid to troll you to literally do that in front of your friends, your family, the people on your personal page?"
The judge found Vos' Twitter account named in the lawsuit, @repvos, was created for official state purposes.
"Defendants intentionally created the interactive social media accounts at issue in order to communicate with members of the public about news and information related to their roles as public officials, and are continuing to operate them as such," federal judge William Conley wrote in his ruling.
But Vos disputed that.
"If it was my official account, I could understand the concern of trying to block anybody, but to block somebody from their personal account just seems a step too far," he said.
The other lawmakers listed in the lawsuit were state Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, and former Rep. Jesse Kremer, R-Kewaskum.