GOP dislikes Obamacare but offers no clear alternatives

Wisconsin’s top two Republicans probably caught a break when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Obamacare.

Now Gov. Scott Walker, seeking to be the next president of the United States, can sidestep questions about his vision of health care financing in America.

Rather, he can denounce President Obama, congressional Democrats and their health law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

But Walker will find he is not alone. The other dozen or so GOP presidential hopefuls will be singing from the same political song sheet. They likely will promise to repeal “Obamacare” as soon as they take the presidential oath.

Some Republicans suggest they want to allow the “market” to establish health care in America. That sounds like returning America to its position before Obamacare was enacted. There is no clear Republican alternative, short of a simple repeal, on the national political table.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, who is running for a second term, sought to develop a position for Repub- licans in case the Supreme Court struck down Obamacare.

Johnson suggested that the popular additional benefits be continued in the interim, but that mandatory participation requirements be rolled back until early 2017 when a Republican occupies the White House.

The American Academy of Actuaries said that wouldn’t work and predicted the Affordable Care Act would crumble if the participation requirements were eliminated.

The collapse would have a bigger impact in rural and northern Wisconsin than elsewhere in the state. At the end of March, 183,155 people in Wisconsin had enrolled in Obamacare. More than 90 percent of them were receiving federal subsidies to get the plan.

Among eligible non-elderly adults, participation was at 4 percent in Milwaukee County and 3.3 percent in Dane County. Participation in some rural northern counties were above 10 percent of the eligible non-elderly adults. A sample among the northern coun- ties shows 11.4 percent (Vilas), 10.6 percent (Iron), 9.7 percent (Door), 8.6 percent (Oneida) and 7.2 percent (Sawyer).

New census figures show that 35 counties in Wisconsin saw populations decline from 2013 to 2014. That is a continuation of a trend due largely to people moving out, according to an Associated Press report.

The northern and rural areas are largely Republican country in Wisconsin.

In the wake of the court deci - sion, Johnson issued a statement saying Obamacare has harmed millions of Americans. He said the law has “never been ac - cepted” by citizens.

A different view came from the Wisconsin chapter of the AARP, which cited how the law could affect older people.

It cited a 31 percent drop in the uninsured of those between 50 and 64. Obamacare re - quires coverage of pre-existing conditions, premium limits on older citizens, reducing a gap in Medicare drug coverage, and al - lowing children up to age 26 to continue on their parents’ health insurance, the AARP said.

The health care issue is far more complicated than other social issues facing elected of - ficials. Unlike drug testing of people getting food stamps or unemployment compensation, health coverage impacts the insurance industry and the wide variety of medical providers.

Some Republicans suggest the health issue be delegated to the 50 states. Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, who chaired the State Senate Health Committee, declared Obamacare a failure. There are a multitude of pos - sible state solutions, she said in a statement.

That may be the perfect political stance for Walker and Johnson. It doesn’t require details.

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