Expressing their disdain for the Affordable Health Care Act, Rep. Paul Ryan and other state Republicans Sunday evangelized their anti-Obamacare message and asked the Racine Tea Party faithful to go out and spread the message that it isn’t working.
One by one, notable Republicans got up in front of the roughly 300 people gathered at the Racine Tea Party Healthcare Forum at South Hills Country Club in Caledonia. In turn, they each dissected the health-care law and said how the American people made a decision in November they may come to regret.
Headlining speaker Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, called the law “fundamentally flawed” in its conception and implementation, and said it is doomed to fail.
“Obamacare is too overarching and it runs contrary to the practices of this country so it can’t last,” Ryan said.
Ryan told residents to start at home, educating themselves and their friends and then supporting conservative lawmakers in Wisconsin.
"We have great leaders to show us the way forward," he said. "You can fix this at the state level and show the federal government how to do it."
Read more about what Ryan had to say about Obamacare and income taxes.
State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said liberals and conservatives want the same thing; a government that functions well and takes care of the less fortunate. Wisconsinites, he said, do both really well, even if there's disagreement on how to reach both those goals.
“Under Gov. (Jim) Doyle, we had a massive expansion of Medicaid that included low premiums or no premiums and no co-pays and it worked great until the federal government stepped in,” he said.
But, Vos continued, Gov. Scott Walker wisely rejected setting up a state-based exchange and told the federal government they can do it so Wisconsin lawmakers aren’t left holding the bag when costs sky-rocket and residents are pointing fingers.
“We can make a difference, though, because states form the federal government, not the other way around,” Vos said.
Cost is king
Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, heavily criticized Obamacare. The Cato Institute is a non-partisan think tank, Tanner said, which leans more towards a libertarian perspective.
Tanner told the crowd the problem with the Affordable Care Act is young and healthy people would have to pay more in premiums to subsidize coverage for others — older, sicker people and those with pre-existing conditions — and their premiums would go up a lot faster.
He criticized the health care exchanges, saying the very concept was rife with government intervention. The crowd applauded Tanner’s mention of Walker’s decision to reject the state-based exchanges.
“I make a living making fun of Congress, but I want you to try to grasp this,” Tanner said. “They are going to create a place where buyers and sellers can come together. And the buyers will have money and the sellers will have product, and the buyers will exchange money for the product. Can you imagine that? How have we survived all of these years?”
What we can do here at home
State Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, plans to put forward bills on tort reform, tax breaks for companies that offer health insurance premium accounts for younger workers, looking at ways to build more transparency in the healthcare industry, and allowing people and companies to purchase health insurance outside of Wisconsin.
“Transparency is key, but we haven’t gone far enough,” Vukmir said. “We should be able to shop around. And why can’t we purchase insurance across state lines like we buy other products and services?”
Vukmir explained that many young workers — the "young invincibles" — don’t have insurance. But, she said, if companies earmarked money that could only be used to purchase health insurance, they would buy the insurance.
After Vukmir had her time at the podium, Vos joined her on stage for a joint Q&A. While neither thought a nullification of Obamacare is probable or realistic, they again told people they have the power in this fight. Vos and Vukmir said the way to stand up to the ACA is to take a page out of the Democrats’ playbook by talking to everyone.
“We need to support conservative talk radio and our great bloggers by talking to our friends and family and our neighbors,” Vukmir said. "The November election was tough, but Wisconsin is a bright spot. We will push forward with conservative and founding principles."