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Experts Weigh in on Affordable Care Act, as Walker Introduces a New Health Plan

Gov. Scott Walker has long been an opponent of the Affordable Care Act. Now, he’s announced a plan to repeal and replace president Obama’s signature legislation, if elected president.

Walker calls the Affordable Care Act “a disaster,” and argues Americans don’t support it.

Last week, Gov. Walker wrote a piece for the National Review, slamming the Affordable Care Act. He promised a plan that would “reverse every single destructive Obamacare policy and make health care more affordable and accessible.”

Chris Reader says the Affordable Care Act is costing companies billions of dollars in health insurance taxes. He works for the business group Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.

“If you’re a company, you can pass it along to your employees, in terms of higher costs on their insurance. You can provide less quality plans, which is unfortunately where a number of employers have had to go. Or, you can look at not doing that, but instead you drive up the cost of whatever the product is you’re producing, and therefore probably have less sales and have to lay people off on that end,” Reader says.

WMC argues the Affordable Care Act is failing, based on the impact on business. Another state group insists the law is a success. Robert Kraig is executive director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. He says the Affordable Care Act has done wonders, by providing insurance to those who struggled to obtain it in the past.

“It’s insurance that can’t be taken away. People with pre-existing conditions, people who are early retirees, farmers, anyone who doesn’t have good insurance at work. There are a number of people now who have health care because of the law, and literally if you undercut them, then you’re leaving them on their own again with the insurance industry in a situation where discrimination could return yet again,” Kraig says.

Researchers use a different method to gauge whether the Affordable Care Act has been working. Donna Friedsam is with the UW Population Health Institute. It compiled data on the number of people who have obtained insurance in Wisconsin, since the law creating the health care marketplace took effect.

“Anywhere from a low of 93,907 people to a high of 191,157 people will have come to new coverage, from prior uninsured status,” Friedsam says.

Friedsam says the numbers indicate that, of the people here who were eligible to enroll in coverage, 38 percent have done so – close to the national average. The numbers translate into success, according to Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation. It researches health policy. He points out that the Affordable Care Act’s goal was to get more people covered. Yet Levitt says there have been trade-offs, and losers, along with winners.

“Rules in place in the insurance market, which guarantee coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and limit the amount insurance companies can charge to older people, those new insurance rules have created opportunities for more people to get insured, but they’ve also raised premiums for some people,” Levitt says.

Perhaps the higher premiums for some are why the Affordable Care Act remains controversial, and in Gov. Walker’s case, a plank for his campaign platform. Levitt says the nation is almost equally divided between those who favor the law, and those who oppose it.

Ann-Elise Henzl became News Director in September 2017.
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