Senator Baldwin on the Childhood Illness that Made Her an Advocate for Health Care Reform

Mar 15, 2017

Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, Republican politicians have vowed to repeal and replace the landmark legislation known to many as "Obamacare."

They announced their plan last week. It’s called the American Health Care Act, or what some are calling "Trumpcare", and it’s found critics on both sides of the aisle. Some have referred to it as “Obamacare Lite,” while others say it fails to protect the nation’s most vulnerable people.

A report out this week from the Congressional Budget Committee found that the bill would leave 24 million people without care over the next decade.

>> Find Out Where Your Member of Congress Stands On The New Health Care Bill

Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin has been a public advocate for health care reform for nearly two decades, and has already come out strongly against the new bill. "As somebody who was uninsured in my childhood because of a preexisting health condition, this is a battle that I've taken on for many years," says Baldwin.

"Despite the fact that I fully recovered, my grandparents who raised me, were unable to get insurance at any price, because I had had this previous illness."

"I had a serious childhood illness at age nine. It was similar to spinal meningitis. It was not exactly that diagnosis, but it put me in the hospital for three months," she explains. "And despite the fact that I fully recovered, my grandparents who raised me, were unable to get insurance at any price, because I had had this previous illness." 

The Senator says she wasn't able to get health insurance until college, when she was able to get on a group plan. The new plan, like ACA, has protections for people with pre-existing conditions, so they can continue to have access to health insurance. But Baldwin contends that the bill includes "provisions that make that far from a certainty." 

"The people of Wisconsin did not send me to Washington to take away people's health care."

For example, if a person's coverage lapses from non-payment, Baldwin says an insurance company will have the ability to deny them coverage. Insurance companies would also be able charge higher premiums and deductibles, which could put health insurance out of reach for people with pre-existing conditions, she says.. "If you say they're guaranteed access but they can't afford it, is that truly a guarantee?"

Right now it's unclear how the bill will affect Wisconsin specifically, but Baldwin says it's likely the state will see a large increase in people without insurance.

"I can tell you that the people of Wisconsin did not send me to Washington to take away people's health care, and I won't support repealing the guaranteed health care protections and care that people have today," says Baldwin. "So I am strenuously opposing this Trumpcare plan."