Shilling column: GOP health care repeal still cruel


After weeks of overwhelming opposition, Republican politicians are still pushing a cruel health care repeal that increases costs, limits coverage and jeopardizes access to care. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the latest repeal plan would double health care premiums and result in 32 million more uninsured Americans by 2026.


The health care repeal, also known as TrumpCare, will affect every single resident in Wisconsin. So why are some politicians still supporting it?


Gov. Walker and a handful of legislative Republicans have been vocal supporters of the health care repeal effort. Rather than lowering health care costs, they have sided with out-of-state HMOs and pharmaceutical companies whose CEOs profit by gaming the health care system.


The latest version of TrumpCare continues to favor these special interests by cutting taxes for the wealthy, raising out-of-pocket costs on working families and making huge cuts to Medicaid. Even more troubling for Wisconsin families, Republicans have refused to stand up and protect individuals with pre-existing conditions from the uncertainty created by TrumpCare.


Roughly half of all Wisconsin residents have some form of pre-existing health condition. From asthma and diabetes to cancer and heart disease, we all know someone who has been affected by a serious health condition at some point in their life. Through no fault of their own, these individuals could see massive price spikes or lose their coverage if the repeal plan approved by Speaker Paul Ryan moves forward.


These consequences haven’t deterred Republicans and their special interest allies. In fact, Gov. Walker admitted early on that he was open to eliminating protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions. His statement shocked and disappointed many families who are already struggling with difficult illnesses and costly treatments.


Rather than siding with big-money special interests, Wisconsin Democrats introduced a series of solutions to protect health care access and lower costs. We believe residents shouldn’t be denied coverage based on a pre-existing condition. We believe access to preventive care shouldn’t come with a premium penalty. And we believe that insurance companies shouldn’t be the ones writing their own rules.


As lawmakers consider major health care changes, local residents need to make sure their voices are being heard. Instead of going back to the days when insurance companies could unfairly discriminate against individuals, we should ensure all families have the opportunity to access quality and affordable health care coverage.


Let’s protect individuals with pre-existing conditions, lower costs for seniors and protect affordable access for working families. As one local resident recently told me: “We all need medical care at some point in life, so let’s take care of one another.”


Jennifer Shilling serves as the Senate Democratic Leader and represents the 32nd District which covers La Crosse, Vernon, Crawford and parts of Monroe County.