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Wisconsin Leaders Weigh in on GOP Health Care Overhaul

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Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) (C) holds up a copy of the American Health Care Act during a news conference.

When it comes to replacing the Affordable Care Act, a couple Wisconsin leaders from different parties have one thing in common. Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Republican Gov. Scott Walker both expect the GOP plan to continue to evolve before Congress votes on it.

Both of the elected officials commented on the measure Tuesday.

Sen. Baldwin says she knows what it's like not to have health insurance. Baldwin says she was very ill as a child. Her grandparents -- who raised her -- were unable to obtain coverage for her afterward, because of her pre-existing condition. Baldwin says the Affordable Care Act has protected people with health problems in their background. It has encouraged – or forced -- people to buy health insurance.

"People who were ill without insurance often put off care until things were pretty bad and then would often present in hospital emergency rooms, and we don’t want to recreate that situation of a catastrophic care system. We want to encourage people to have annual wellness checks and to be proactive about maintaining their good health," she ays.

Baldwin says the alternative President Donald Trump favors, which currently is in the House, is set up to worsen coverage. She cites numbers that analysts on Capitol Hill released this week.

"The Congressional Budget Office estimates that if Trumpcare passes, we will double -- almost double -- the percentage of uninsured in our country. And so we can, I think, extrapolate the same for the state of Wisconsin," she says.

Baldwin says she "strenuously" opposes the plan, and won't back it unless House leaders make big alterations. She makes her comments in an interview with Lake Effect's Joy Powers.

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Meanwhile, Gov. Walker stopped in Milwaukee to speak at a Rotary Club luncheon. Afterward, Walker met with reporters, where he defended Trump's push to replace the Affordable Care Act.

"The Affordable Care Act is collapsing. Obamacare is collapsing right now. So if we do nothing it will continue to collapse. More people will lose coverage. So I'm thankful that the members of the House and the Senate are looking to move forward on something to repeal and replace a system that's falling apart," he says.

Yet Walker says the plan in the House is not perfect. He says he'll be watching for changes, including in how the proposal would affect coverage in Wisconsin.

"I think there's more room for progress. I think part of what we're going to be looking at is what are the long-term impacts on Medicaid. How can we ensure that the things that we've done here that are unique in the nation -- where we cover everyone living in poverty, for those above, we continue to have ways for them to gain access in the marketplace -- those are the sorts of things we want to make sure are in the final version," he says.

Walker says he and other governors have a "laundry list" of questions and concerns they plan to address with the White House.

Ann-Elise Henzl became News Director in September 2017.
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