I know on a very personal level how important health care is for Wisconsin families. When I was 9 years old, I was hospitalized with a serious illness for three months. My grandparents were raising me and discovered that coverage for my hospitalization was denied because their policy did not include grandchildren. Once I was completely recovered, my grandparents could not find insurance coverage for me because I had a “pre-existing condition.”
Middle class families should have the peace of mind knowing they will have access to quality, affordable health care, regardless of any pre-existing condition. That is just one of the reasons I fought to pass President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
It is the right thing to do to allow millions of young people to stay on their parents’ health care coverage until age 26 — an amendment to the bill I was proud to author. Now over 6 million young people have health care as a result of the reforms we fought for.
But my opponent, Tommy Thompson, wants to rip up America’s new health law, repeal health care reform entirely and start over. I believe that is the wrong path forward.
I don’t believe it makes sense to start over because that means allowing insurance companies to deny coverage to Wisconsin children with pre-existing conditions. Thompson’s repeal plan would allow insurance companies to charge women 50 percent more than men for health care coverage and it would strip young people off their parents’ health insurance plans. He would also repeal free preventive care for Wisconsin seniors and open up the prescription drug “doughnut hole,” increasing out-of-pocket costs for seniors.
I believe seniors should continue to have access to free preventive care, as well as affordable access to prescription drugs under Medicare. About 33 million Americans have already benefited from free preventive health care benefits thanks to Obamacare. By 2020, the doughnut hole — or coverage gap in Medicare Part D — will be eliminated.
Since I was raised by my grandparents, I got to see at an early age the value of Medicare to the economic security of Wisconsin families. I understand that Wisconsin seniors paid into their retirement security and they earned it. In Wisconsin, when we make a promise we keep it and these are promises we cannot break and promises I will fight to keep.
My opponent, Tommy Thompson, left Wisconsin for Washington and went to work for President George W. Bush, where he cut a sweetheart deal with drug companies that increased the cost to taxpayers and increased the deficit for future generations. He was the “quarterback” on a plan to make it illegal for the government to negotiate lower prescription drug prices.
Now my opponent said he wants to do away with Medicare and turn it into a voucher plan, forcing seniors to pay more. He supports the Republican plan on Medicare, which would provide billions in new profits for big insurance companies and a voucher for seniors instead of the guaranteed benefit they paid for, sticking them with $6,000 more in out-of-pocket costs.
Now is the time to move forward, making reform work and working together to fix what doesn’t. The last thing Wisconsin families want or need is more political fights in Washington when we should be focused on moving the new health care law forward.
Tammy Baldwin is the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate and the current member of the House from District 2.