After Friday night’s election debate, healthcare has come into focus as a critical issue in the race for Wisconsin’s open Senate seat.
The debate between Republican and former Gov. Tommy Thompson and Democrat Tammy Baldwin Friday mainly focused on the two candidates’ views on healthcare.
John Kraus, spokesperson for Baldwin’s campaign, said the choice is clear between Baldwin and Thompson when it comes to healthcare. Baldwin, Kraus said, is interested in moving the Affordable Care Act forward.
However, Thompson’s plan would be to get rid of the Affordable Care Act and start all over while putting insurance companies in charge, Kraus said.
Baldwin was behind the amendment to provide healthcare to young adults on their parents’ healthcare plans up until they turn 26, Kraus said.
“Six million young people that would not normally have healthcare now have coverage due to the Affordable Care Act,” Kraus said.
Kraus said there is no truth in the Thompson campaign’s claim that Baldwin is too much of a “big spender” for Wisconsin. He said Thompson worked for an administration that was $11 million in debt.
Kraus said the Bush administration was more careless in spending, naming two wars and two tax cuts for the wealthy as two causes of Bush’s deficit.
Kraus also referred to Thompson’s Medicare drug benefit as “a sweetheart deal with the drug companies” that cost taxpayers $156 billion.
“Tammy Baldwin was against all of these actions, as they only added to the deficit,” Kraus said. “Thompson has spent the last seven years cashing in with drug companies that break the rules.”
Jeff Snow, Chairman of the University of Wisconsin College Republicans, said he supports Thompson’s plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act because he feels it is a burden on small businesses and is bad for Medicare.
“Tommy Thompson is in favor of a market-based health care solution, opening up the health care market to be a free enterprise without government control,” Snow said.
Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin, said Baldwin is strongly in favor of a single-payer program for healthcare. He said she supports Obama’s plan, although it is not as extensive.
Heck said Thompson spoke favorably of the Affordable Care Act just two years ago.
“But now, Thompson, like other Republicans, is backing away from their previous support,” Heck said. They are screaming that it should be repealed without saying what would replace it.”
Professor David Canon, a political science professor at UW, said ultimately the U.S. Senate election will not determine much in terms of whether or not the Affordable Care Act gets repealed.
“In order for the act to be repealed, two things would need to happen: Romney would need to win the national election, and Republicans would need to gain control of the Senate,” Canon said. “Even if one of those things happens, it would not be a sure thing. This depends on a lot more than what happens in Wisconsin.”
Thompson’s campaign did not return calls and the Republican Party of Wisconsin declined to comment for this story.