health care coverage

In 2012, we welcomed our first grandchild into the family. Imagine the anxiety we experienced when we found out that she was born with three heart defects.

We watched and waited for three weeks while she was under the expert care of the medical staff at American Family Children’s Hospital. It was a time of intense worry, even though in the end things turned out well.

But one thing we didn’t have to worry about — at least at that time — was whether her medical bills would be paid. Because the Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as the ACA or Obamacare) was in place, we knew she would be protected from the predatory practices of insurance companies.

Before the ACA, insurance companies could deny coverage or price people with pre-existing conditions out of the insurance market. But it wasn’t just the protections for pre-existing conditions that we appreciated. The ACA also did away with lifetime caps. My granddaughter would likely have reached such a cap as an infant.

Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin, as well as in the U.S. Congress, have been trying for years to repeal the ACA. Leah Vukmir, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Tammy Baldwin, has been a vocal supporter of repealing the ACA.

Having a preexisting condition herself, Sen. Baldwin supports strengthening the ACA. Now, suddenly, Vukmir and other Republicans claim they support protections for preexisting conditions.

Not so fast.

Wisconsin Republicans introduced a bill that would supposedly cover those conditions, but with  loopholes. For example, “patients would need to avoid a gap in their health coverage.” That policy could bring us back to the bad old days, when a person changed their job, or lost it, they also lost their insurance.

The other “solution” Republicans insist on is the high-risk pool for people with serious health conditions. Vukmir claims these pools worked very well for Wisconsinites in the past. They may have worked very well for the wealthy who could afford them, but most people could not.

Would my granddaughter someday be able to afford to join a high-risk pool? Maybe not. And even if she could, would her coverage be cut off when she reached her lifetime cap? It might be.

Let’s remember that thousands of Wisconsin residents went without insurance, and health care, in those “good old days.”

So, don’t believe Republicans who suddenly claim to have seen the light and will now support protections for consumers. It’s just not true. Look at what they’ve tried to do, not what they say.

Stephanie Lowden of Madison, Wisconsin, is a retired educator and local author. This column was distributed by the Progressive Media Project, affiliated with The Progressive, a Madison-based national magazine.


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