Wisconsin reps break along party lines on health overhaul

MADISON — Wisconsin's congressional delegation has voted along party lines on legislation rolling back former President Barack Obama's health care law.

The House voted to pass the bill 217-213 on Thursday afternoon. Wisconsin's Republican representatives — Paul Ryan, Jim Sensenbrenner, Glenn Grothman, Sean Duffy and Mike Gallagher — all voted in favor. Democratic representatives Mark Pocan, Ron Kind and Gwen Moore all voted against it.

The bill ends tax penalties Obama's law imposes on people who don't buy health insurance and on larger employers who don't offer coverage; halts extra payments to states to expand Medicaid; replaces Obama's subsidies for people buying individual policies with tax credits; and allows states to get waivers exempting insurers from Obama's prohibition on charging higher premiums to people with pre-existing health problems.

Below are statements from Wisconsin lawmakers in Washington:

“Obamacare is a proven disaster. Premiums have skyrocketed, quality of care has suffered and, more and more, Washington has exerted itself into what should be private, trusted doctor-patient relationships.

Rep. Glenn Grothman (R) 

“I voted for the new health care bill because the current system is unsustainable. Already, one-third of America’s counties only have one insurance provider, and the exchanges will continue to head towards disaster if Congress doesn’t act.  Just yesterday, the last remaining insurer for the majority of the state of Iowa announced that it may drop off the exchanges – leaving 94 of the 99 counties in the state without an insurance provider.

“Quite simply, Americans deserve better.

“This new bill still covers pre-existing conditions, while easing the burdens of Obamacare that have been forced onto so many of our families. With our vote today, the House has ensured that individuals and families will no longer be forced into expensive, inadequate Obamacare plans they do not want and cannot afford.”

Rep. Gwen Moore (D)

“Today, I emphatically voted against Trumpcare because it is quite simply a matter of life or death for my constituents. The passage of this legislative abomination underscores the depths of Republicans’ indifference to the 24 million Americans who will lose their coverage and the 14 million Americans who will be kicked off of Medicaid. Not only will this deeply flawed and misguided tax giveaway disguised as a health care bill have a crushing impact on people with pre-existing conditions who will face both higher premiums and deductibles, but it also threatens those with employer-based plans, as well as children and adults with disabilities. Put simply, no one is safe from the fallout of this catastrophe in the making.

“I am particularly appalled that President Trump and my Republican colleagues have proven all too willing to turn their backs on our country’s women by endangering their maternity and prenatal care and allowing insurers to deny preventive health care services like mammograms and gynecological exams. Under Trumpcare, conditions like postpartum depression and being a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault could be considered pre-existing conditions, and women in uniform will be at risk as millions of veterans and their families will face a multitude of barriers in seeking care.

“Now, I look to my colleagues in the Senate to be guided by the pleas of their constituents who have voiced their strident opposition to this disastrous bill. I sincerely hope they listen to the cancer survivors and the children living with chronic illnesses who now fear for their lives due to this unconscionable Republican effort. For their sake, I hope those in the upper chamber will use the commonsense and empathy that is severely lacking across the aisle in the House. The lives of all our constituents are on the line.”

Mark Morgan, Executive Director for the Republican Party of Wisconsin

“While Republicans are taking steps to reform our healthcare system for Wisconsin’s hard-working families and small businesses, Democrats like Senator Tammy Baldwin continue to play political games and cling to the complete disaster that is Obamacare. After nearly 20 years in Washington, all Senator Baldwin has left is to embrace the same failed polices of yesterday that she helped enact, while Republicans are fighting for reform.”

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning

"This is a sad day for our country and the millions of Americans who stand to lose their health insurance at the hands of Congressional Republicans.

"Republicans in Congress took a bill that raises health care costs and made it even worse. It was bad enough that they were ready to take health care away from 24 million people and raise premiums on older Americans – now they just passed a bill that severely threatens coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions all for the sake of political expediency.

"It's these kinds of political games that the American people are tired of seeing. Speaker Paul Ryan and House Republicans will have to explain themselves to the mothers and fathers of children born with birth defects, the millions of Americans who have survived cancer, and the many seniors who rely on affordable care through Medicare."

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel

"Republicans have taken an important first step toward fixing our healthcare system. Obamacare is falling apart and has saddled the American people with rising costs, less choice, and skyrocketing premiums. The time to act is now, and that's exactly what Republicans have done. President Trump promised voters he would fix our healthcare system; and with the help of House Republicans, the American Healthcare Act sets us on a course to fix what the Democrats broke. Republicans are committed to lowering costs, fostering competition in the marketplace, and giving Americans everywhere access to quality and truly affordable healthcare. Democrats in Washington now have a clear choice: they can continue to fight against the American people to protect Obamacare's failures, or they work with Republicans to fix it."

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D)

“President Trump promised ‘insurance for everybody’ but the House Republicans broke that promise today by putting millions of people at risk of losing health care coverage and forcing millions to pay more for less care.

“The TrumpCare plan voted on in the House today weakens consumer protections in the private insurance market, puts insurance companies back in charge and lets them raise deductibles and charge higher premiums. It cuts Medicaid, putting support for special education, people with disabilities and those struggling with an opioid addiction at risk. This plan is so misguided that it targets older Americans with higher health costs and puts Medicare on a quicker path to insolvency while giving tax breaks to people at the top with higher incomes.

“House Republicans have not listened to the American people and the second version of TrumpCare is worse than the first. I will not support repealing the guaranteed health insurance protections and care that people with pre-existing conditions and others have today. Wisconsin cannot afford to buy what President Trump and Speaker Ryan are selling because the cost is lower quality health care and higher out-of-pocket costs to people with pre-existing conditions.

“The people of Wisconsin did not send me to Washington to take people’s health care away. I will not support higher costs, fewer people with health care coverage and more economic insecurity for Wisconsin families.”