Two years later, healthcare law affecting Wisconsin races

KENOSHA -- Friday, March 23rd marked the two-year anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act - often referred to by opponents of the plan as ObamaCare. Two years later, the law is still stirring controversy.

Congressman Paul Ryan is running for re-election in southeast Wisconsin, and this week, launched his budget proposal targeted long-term healthcare spending. His opponent, Rob Zerban, says Ryan is doing it the wrong way.

The calls kept going out from Kenosha Democrat Rob Zerban's volunteer office Friday. Zerban is challenging Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) for a seat in Congress. Both men feel strongly about the Affordable Care Act; Ryan wants to repeal it and Zerban wants to put it in the express lane.

"I think some of the provisions should've been enacted sooner instead of waiting until 2014 because a lot of these things are cost-saving measures that would help us correct the situation we're faced with," Zerban said.

Ryan specifically targeted the legislation in the budget proposal he released this week. In a statement, he pointed out the cost of the bill - twice the original estimate. "The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has said (the bill) will cost twice as much as originally estimated," Ryan's statement read.

The issue is affecting other Wisconsin races. Former governor and current Senate hopeful Tommy Thompson also released a statement slamming the act, which opponents call ObamaCare. "ObamaCare is driving up the costs of healthcare, stifling job creation and adding more than a quarter of a trillion dollars in government spending," Thompson's statement read.

Zerban acknowledged the cost of healthcare in the federal budget, but he said Obama's plan will eventually reduce spending by allowing people with pre-existing conditions to buy private health insurance. "I don't think anyone disputes the fact we need to deal with our debt, but we just vary greatly on how we want to address it," Zerban said.

In his latest proposal, Ryan would provide government incentives to private companies that cover the most high-risk patients while fining those who avoid them. The non-partisian Concord Coalition said his plans "demonstrate an encouraging attempt to make the proposal more attractive from a bipartisan perspective." However, the group also questioned his debt estimates, saying "the favorable deficit reduction numbers shown in Ryan's budget depend upon a broad array of policy choices that are not spelled out and seem unrealistic."