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Duffy on bi-partisan Obamacare deal: 'What kind of reform do we get?'Submitted: 10/19/2017
Lane Kimble
Lane Kimble
News Director
lkimble@wjfw.com

Duffy on bi-partisan Obamacare deal: 'What kind of reform do we get?'
CRANDON - Terri Burl wanted to ask more questions than make comments during Congressman Sean Duffy's town hall in Crandon on Thursday.

"Everybody's in the state of the unknown right now," Burl said.

Burl, a Republican, was thinking of her 26-year-old son in Oshkosh as she asked Duffy (R-Wausau) about health care concerns.  She worries about tax penalties for her uninsured son and the GOP's lack of solid ideas to replace the Affordable Care Act.


"They kept saying, 'We have a plan, we have a plan, all we need is a president who will sign,'" Burl said. "Well, so we have a president who will sign a bill and suddenly they don't have a plan."

Burl's anger seems to have hit the White House, too. This month, President Trump announced he would end the approximately $7 billion payments the government makes to exchanges to keep premiums down. Duffy says Trump -- like Barack Obama -- doesn't have the authority to spend the money in the first place, noting it's Congress that should deal with finances.

"That frustration, I think is boiling right now," Duffy told Newswatch 12 after the Crandon town hall.

Duffy says a bi-partisan deal from Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) and Patty Murray (D-Washington) to extend those payments another two years could work, but there needs to be a trade-off. Duffy wants to get rid of the ACA's insurance requirement for individuals and businesses. He'd also like to send money directly to states in the form of block grants.

"We're different in Wisconsin than people in California or New York or Mississippi, so let us do our own thing," Duffy said. "If you do that, I think we'll be pretty close to a deal."

That kind of deal is one the left-leaning group Citizen Action of Wisconsin would at least listen to.

"Obviously we differ on the block grant idea, I'm not a big fan of that and neither are the members of Citizen Action of Wisconsin," organizer Joel Lewis said. "However, I do agree that the state has the ability to stop the pain from the federal government and Trump's recent executive orders."

Lewis says premiums for people in Rhinelander on exchanges will jump 55-percent in 2018. Lewis points to numbers on the Citizen Action of Wisconsin website that show BadgerCare public-option premiums would cost people 6-percent less than exchanges. He thinks allowing that public option in Wisconsin would save people hundreds of dollars.

"This isn't the working poor that's going to be affected," Lewis said. "This is the upper-middle class and in many cases the folks that voted for Trump."

As the president continues to bounce back and forth between supporting the bi-partisan deal, (Trump went from supporting the deal this week to saying, "I am not going to do anything to enrich the insurance companies.") Duffy is hopeful, but not necessarily confident a deal can be reached.

"If this is a very skinny deal on reform, but large payments to the Obamacare exchanges, I don't think that's going to fly," Duffy said.

Duffy also talked about tax reform on Thursday. He says it's a much simpler fix than Obamacare and doesn't expect any action on health care until after January 1, 2018, despite Alexander saying he expects the bill to become law before year's end.

Duffy held town halls in Eagle River, Crandon, and Florence on Thursday.  He'll be in Ladysmith and Grantsburg on Friday.


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