Another attempt by Senate Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act appears to be doomed. Late this afternoon Sen. Tammy Baldwin spoke with TODAY’S TMJ4 right after word that the Senate will not be taking up a vote this week on the Republican plan.
"I find this to be really important and good news for Wisconsinites who have been expressing themselves with great concerns about the negative impacts of that legislation particularly on people with pre-existing health conditions," Baldwin said.
Senate Democrats don't have the votes to stop Republican efforts to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama's signature health care legislation but Republicans are struggling to secure enough votes to overhaul it.
Republicans need 51 votes to pass what is being called the Graham-Cassidy Bill. It transforms most of the Obamacare federal spending back to states like Wisconsin to run their own health care programs with fewer constraints. Three Republicans have said no, meaning it appears doomed.
"This is a debate about who has the power. Is it you, the patient, or is it the federal government," said Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy. "The narrative on the other side is that you don't have the capability to care for yourself, that your governor is corrupt, scheming to take away your protections if you have a pre-existing condition. And they think the federal government taking control of your life is a better way to go."
Baldwin says the Affordable Care Act helped 20 million Americans gain health insurance including safe guards for people with pre-existing conditions
"All of these repeal efforts, including this last one devolved the control to the state level, peeled away these safe guards or created the opportunity for them to be eroded. In my mind, that is a step backwards," Baldwin said.
But Sen. Ron Johnson talked on the Senate floor about a Wisconsin couple with a pre-existing medical condition that could not afford the coverage under the affordable care act. Johnson believes states can do a better job with health care than the federal government
"They make too much to be subsidized under Obamacare,” Johnson said, "and they don't make enough to be able to afford the premium of $14,000 per year with a $12,500 deductible."
" I have always believed we can do some really creative things with federal-state partnerships," Baldwin said. "I think some of the things Wisconsin has done including Senior Care have been really creative and helpful."
So what's next? Democrats like Baldwin believe single payer needs to be on the table down the road.
"I have been supporting efforts to allow people to buy in Medicare at 55," Baldwin said. “There's new bill I'm involved in that will allow people to buy into Medicaid and yes we have Bernie Sanders Medicare for all which I also support because I want to have all the good ideas on the table."
Republicans say single payer is a non-starter.