Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday declined to give full support to a health care overhaul plan proposed by his Republican colleagues in the U.S. House and backed by GOP President Donald Trump, describing the measure as “a work in progress.”
Walker, speaking to reporters after an event in Madison, also voiced concern with the dearth of information about the proposal’s cost and impact.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has not yet provided such information on the bill, even as it races toward a final House vote that Speaker Paul Ryan has said could come within two weeks.
“I personally want to know what the cost is,” Walker said.
At the same time, Walker also sought to downplay the impact of the far-reaching changes, saying people on employer-sponsored health care will see few effects.
“Most people aren’t going to be affected with this no matter what happens,” Walker said.
Some of the most significant provisions of former President Barack Obama’s health care law, such as its ban on insurers discriminating against people with pre-existing health conditions or its allowance for young people to stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26, apply broadly, regardless of how one receives health coverage.
Those two provisions would be retained under the GOP “American Health Care Act,” released Monday. But it would scrap other parts of Obama’s law in favor of tax credits to help some afford health insurance and make dramatic changes to Medicaid, the state-federal program of coverage for the very poor and disabled.
Walker’s lukewarm reaction to the plan is notable, given his national profile and the fact it was crafted by his close Republican ally, Ryan of Janesville. Some conservative lawmakers and groups have derided the plan as “Obamacare Lite,” while some GOP governors have said it doesn’t do enough to protect coverage gains from Obama’s law.
Walker also speculated that ending the Obamacare individual mandate to have health coverage, as the House GOP plan does, might result in more Americans having coverage.
That contradicts predictions from health care analysts and experts across the political spectrum, as well as organizations such as the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association, who say the plan would result in many Americans, likely millions, losing health coverage or benefits.
“If more people came into the market because the mandate was gone and some of the taxes were gone ... potentially if you have more people participating, that could actually, theoretically, could lower premiums,” Walker said.