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Does the GOP want to take away your health care?
That’s what U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, claimed in a Jan. 6, 2017 interview with Wisconsin Public Television.
Republicans, Baldwin said, are "organizing to take people’s health care away."
Asked for backup, a Baldwin spokesperson said the senator’s comment was in reference to plans from congressional Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare after former President Barack Obama, who played a key role in crafting the law.
It’s no secret that many in the GOP have long opposed Obamacare and have campaigned on promises to dismantle it. Indeed, there has been some recent action to that end: In January, the House and Senate took preliminary steps to abolish the ACA and about a week later President Donald Trump directed federal agencies to limit its reach.
But leading Republicans have also said they intend to enact replacement legislation still aimed at providing people with health coverage.
How does that all square with Baldwin’s statement that Republicans are "organizing to take people’s health care away."
Let’s take a look.
Repeal and replace
Baldwin’s statement posits that Republican intervention will result in people losing access to health care, an assumption that is supported by some evidence.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported in January 2017 — after Baldwin made the claim — that 18 million people would be uninsured within a year if key portions of the law were repealed. The office further projected that number would grow to 32 million people by 2026.
But there’s more to the story.
The congressional report was exclusively focused on the impact of abolishing Obamacare and did not consider replacement legislation. Moreover, prominent Republicans have repeatedly said they would seek to replace the law with an alternative:
• U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, has said that his goal is "to give everyone access to affordable insurance." A white paper Ryan’s office released in June 2015 also said that House Republicans aimed to "provide all Americans with health care that is accessible, affordable and sustainable." The plan includes two popular features of the Affordable Care Act: covering people with pre-existing conditions and allowing young adults to stay on their parents' plan until age 26.
• Baldwin’s Wisconsin counterpart, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, told public radio in January 2017: "Nobody here wants to pull out the rug from under people, leave them high and dry without access to quality health care. It's a goal we all share. We should concentrate on that. Everybody wants every American to have access to affordable and quality health care."
Republicans have yet to fully devise and agree on a replacement to Obamacare, although in January a pair of GOP senators introduced one alternative measure. The legislation would essentially let states keep using the ACA if they want; develop a new alternative system that would be eligible for some federal funding; or opt against any federal aid.
Still, Baldwin’s claim is not supported by what congressional Republicans have said and done thus far.
Baldwin said that Republicans are "organizing to take people's health care away."
While the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that repeal of the Affordable Care Act could result in millions of people losing their health insurance, that finding did not examine the effect of any replacement legislation.
Prominent congressional Republicans — and Trump — have repeatedly said they intend to propose alternative legislation that would aim to give all people access to health care.
For a statement that contains some element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression, we rate Baldwin’s statement Mostly False.
Email, Tammy Baldwin press secretary Bill Neidhardt, Jan. 17, 2017
Email, Paul Ryan press secretary Ian Martorana, Jan. 18, 2017
Wisconsin Public Television, "U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin On Upcoming Legislative Session," Jan. 6, 2017
USA TODAY, "GOP senators outline first Obamacare replacement plan," Jan. 23, 2017
The White House, "Executive Order Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal," Jan. 20, 2017
The New York Times, "Trump Issues Executive Order Scaling Back Parts of Obamacare," Jan. 20, 2017
Reuters, "House votes to begin repealing Obamacare," Jan. 14, 2017
Here and Now, "Wisconsin Senator Says Republicans Won't 'Pull Out The Rug' From Obamacare," Jan. 10, 2017
The New York Times, "Health Law Repeal Could Cost 18 Million Their Insurance, Study Finds," Jan. 17, 2017
Congressional Budget Office, "How Repealing Portions of the Affordable Care Act Would Affect Health Insurance Coverage and Premiums," Jan. 17, 2017
CBS News, "President-elect Trump speaks to a divided country on 60 Minutes," Nov. 13, 2017
The Washington Post, "Trump vows ‘insurance for everybody’ in Obamacare replacement plan," Jan. 15, 2017
WISC-TV, "Ryan says he's 'on the same page' with Trump," Jan. 16, 2017
House Speaker Paul Ryan, "Obamacare Has Failed the American People," Dec. 15, 2016
PolitiFact, "Testing Paul Ryan's damning attack on the Affordable Care Act: 'Obamacare has failed'," Feb. 1, 2017
Congress.Gov, "S.191 - A bill to improve patient choice by allowing States to adopt market-based alternatives to the Affordable Care Act that increase access to affordable health insurance and reduce costs while ensuring important consumer protections and improving patient care," last accessed Feb. 1, 2017
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