RACINE, Wisconsin — Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has been one of the primary architects of the GOP’s ongoing crusade to repeal and replace Obamacare. Most recently, the Budget Chairman has indicated that Republicans will attempt to pass individual reforms to roll back the health law’s provisions piece by piece.
But not all of Ryan’s constituents agree with his position. On Wednesday, the Republican congressman was confronted by one such voter at a town hall in southeast Wisconsin.
“ACA subsidies are a good thing,” Michael Martincic, 64, of Oak Creek told Ryan, criticizing his Party’s repeated attempts to get rid of the health reform law.
Martincic works as a roofer and is currently paying $700 for his health insurance through his union. However, upon browsing Healthcare.gov — “it was so easy to get on the site; the whole thing only took 15 minutes,” Martincic told ThinkProgress afterward — he found that he qualified for subsidies and could be paying as little as $200 for coverage.
Martincic also told Ryan about others who had been helped by Obamacare as well, including a friend with leukemia whose out-of-pocket expenses had been cut in half. At several points, the crowd clapped and cheered for him.
Nonetheless, Ryan defended his party’s repeal votes — 51 in total — noting that some of them only aimed to chip away at particular parts of Obamacare. “We didn’t have 51 votes to repeal it altogether 51 times,” Ryan said. “That’s sort of this urban legend…there are many pieces of this law that we went after.”
Ryan’s own plan to replace Obamacare, the Patients’ Choice Act, was unveiled back in 2009. Although that plan lacks some of the consumer protections in Obamacare, it also incorporates some of the same provisions that made it into the health law. Ryan admitted last year that Obamacare does include some ideas that Republicans “have always been talking about.” But that hasn’t stopped him from repeatedly introducing budget proposals to repeal the law.
Martincic said he and his wife are still deciding whether to go through with the insurance switch, but he’s grateful to have the option. When ThinkProgress asked him whether he thinks Ryan sees the people like himself, who could benefit from Obamacare, Martincic shook his head. “He misses it.”
MARTINCIC: What Obama did was get this law passed. Whether it’s good, bad, or not, it got passed. It’s actually helping some people grow, helped this other guy [with] medication. The Republicans….By myself…I could actually…get some kind of subsidy, which would help me…
RYAN: With the ACA, one thing I want to say is we didn’t have 51 votes to repeal it altogether 51 times. I think that’s sort of like this urban legend that we said, ‘let’s repeal it.’ It’s like we did a repeal vote on the whole law. There are many pieces of this law that we’ve gone after—several of them that were made into law, so please know—I think even Democrats would acknowledge that there are a lot of problems with this law. And so we passed a lot of things changing this law—several of which were made into law—but I really do believe there’s a better way to do it than with this health care law.
My argument is that I think there are better ways at dealing with these extremely important and legitimate problems, like people with preexisting conditions—this is why I’m a big fan of risk pools. We had the [??] system in Wisconsin—it worked well, and then it had the federal government attached to it, so it was even more affordable for people with preexisting conditions. That was one of our proposals. So I do think that there are better ways of fixing this problem—affordable coverage for everybody, including people with preexisting conditions that’s a lot better than [this law]. It’s going to hurt our hospitals, it’s going to hurt Medicare, it’s going to make people buy things they don’t want to buy.