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Why Walker unveiled his Obamacare replacement plan in Minnesota

MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday
Gov. Scott Walker posing for a selfie with a fundraiser attendee at O'Gara's Bar & Grill in St. Paul on Tuesday night.

Republican presidential candidate Wisconsin governor Scott Walker seems to be making the Midwest a proving ground for his campaign.

A day after he countered a protester at the Iowa State Fair with a vigorous defense of his policies in Wisconsin, he unveiled a major policy initiative Tuesday in the Twin Cities, capped by an appearance at a fundraiser for Republican activist group.

At a manufacturing company in Brooklyn Center, Walker offered his alternative to the Affordable Care Act. The plan includes tying tax credits to age, not income; “eliminating Obamacare’s regulations,” i.e., reducing insurance mandates, which he says would lower insurance costs by 25 percent; and expanding contribution limits to Health Savings Accounts. The Walker proposal would retain the current provision that prohibits insurers from denying coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions. 

The Democratic National Committee immediately criticized the plan as a catastrophe for the 16 million people who now use the federal health care plan and “a vague grab-bag of conservative wish-list items.”

Scrapping Obamacare on “day one” in office, Walker argued, would not have a negative impact. “In the end they’re going to have the ability to find affordable and accessible health care,” he told a group of reporters.  “They’re just going to be able to do that without a federal mandate. People will be eligible for the tax credit.”  

Walker could have chosen a more delegate-rich state to make a policy splash. (Minnesota sends just 38 delegates to the Republican National Convention; by comparison, Florida sends 99.) But at the fundraiser in St. Paul for the Minnesota Jobs Coalition, he acknowledged a comfort level with his Midwest neighbors.  

“For me, I think there’s a certain amount of Midwestern nice [from] people who are familiar with each other in the Midwest,” he said after an hour of hugs and photos with the crowd.  “I’ve been here a number of times in the past.  People are familiar as they are in Iowa and Illinois with our track record.”

He referred to that track record when told a member of Minnesota Hispanic Republican Assembly had questioned Walker’s outreach to Hispanic voters. “This is my first official visit as a candidate,” he said.  “Outreach to everybody is what I’m doing right now. But we’ll do well. When I was Milwaukee County executive, I carried almost all the Hispanic wards in the city of Milwaukee… because I talked about educational opportunities through school choice and entrepreneurship through helping small businesses grow.”

According to national polls, Walker is currently in the middle of the pack of the 17 Republicans vying for the nomination, although he holds a narrow lead in Minnesota. U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Rand Paul are also considered contenders among the Minnesota’s Republican activists. 

But Walker has the best-established ground game in the state to secure delegates for the March 1 caucuses where, in a 17-way race, neighbors may be a candidate’s best friends. 

Comments (14)

  1. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 08/19/2015 - 10:29 am.

    Walker was on a spy mission

    I’m not sure why he is proud of his Wisconsin track record. He’s running a $2,000,000,000 deficit, his signature accomplishment has been beating people down, He promised 250,000 new jobs and didn’t even come close. So why would he come to a state where everything is working. Minnesota is the top state in the union for business. Much to the GOP disgust. We are the top spot for high tech jobs. Much to the GOP disgust., Minnesota is union friendly. Much to the GOP disgust. My guess Walker was here on a spy mission to see how to do it right. Walker is nothing more than Pawlenty 2.0 and we all know where Pawlenty ended up, at the bottom of the heap. Walkers slide to the bottom has already started.

  2. Submitted by Jim Camery on 08/19/2015 - 10:53 am.

    His plan makes no sense

    The two main thrusts are incompatible. 1) There’s no mandate – you don’t have to buy insurance. 2) When you want to buy it, insurers can’t consider existing conditions and have to take you. Who in their right mind would buy insurance then? You’d wait until you’re very sick and then buy it. The ‘pool’ would only be those with health issues. Waiting for the insurance industry to weigh in.

    • Submitted by Tim Smith on 08/19/2015 - 01:11 pm.

      open enrollment

      the same way the ACA does it, an open enrollment period unless you have a life event mid year. The death spiral you describe is exactly why insurance companies denied folks with pre-ex prior to the ACA. No one would have bought coverage when healthy, but liberals were outraged by that and thought insurance companies were mean. No, they just had common sense and real world experience.

      • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 08/19/2015 - 03:37 pm.

        What do you think happened prior to the ACA?

        Sick people went to ERs for their illnesses and injuries, the most expensive form of medical care paid for by the govt or lost by the hospitals. An utter failure of health care.

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 08/20/2015 - 09:53 am.

      Pre-existing missed payment plan

      First and foremost, Scott Walker wants every American to know what his alternative to Obamacare is really all about:

      ” ‘It’s all about freedom. Putting freedom back in the hands of patients and families to make decisions about your health care and about your money.’ ”

      But related to things not making sense:

      “Walker pledged that people with pre-existing conditions would be protected. He would eliminate the mandate to buy insurance, but consumers would have to maintain continuous coverage to prevent a large premium increase or a denial of coverage.”

      It reminds me of the Freedom credit card companies have to raise people’s interest rate from 3% to 12% or 23% (or however high the law allows) if they miss a payment on anything (car, mortgage, student-loan, utility, phone or other credit card bill). But in Scott’s plan, insurance companies would not only have the Freedom to jack people’s premium price if they missed a payment, they would have the Freedom to cancel their insurance and, of course, the Freedom to not refund any of the money they’d sent them in the past.

      And, once a person was on the “Canceled for failure to maintain continuous coverage” list, would other companies be obligated to sell them a replacement plan (at “Payment risk” rates?), or would they have the Freedom to decline coverage on account of one missed payment to any other insurance company?

      Hard to say. Apparently, Scott is exercising his presidential candidate’s Freedom to not provide details, answer questions, explain anything before being elected.

      But, near as anyone can tell, no one would be denied or lose coverage because of a pre-existing condition. They could only lose it if they missed a premium payment.

  3. Submitted by Tim Smith on 08/19/2015 - 01:07 pm.


    At least Governor Walker actually met real middle class people while he was here. Apparently Mrs. Clinton has no time to meet with hard working Minnesotans in between her cocktail parties with uber rich special interest hogs. He didn’t do one of those faux town hall meetings like the President does either. Where only hard core supporters are invited and ask questions approved in advance by his staff, or photo ops at local bars with a known supporter.

    • Submitted by Tom Christensen on 08/19/2015 - 01:33 pm.

      Walker has mastered

      Political claptrap speak. The lips moved, but nothing was really said, other than elect me and I’ll give you the sad details later. Who he was really was talking to is the Koch brothers because they have not made up their mind yet as to who the best “follower” will be. Every third word, Walker spoke, was freedom, which is so contrary to the GOP overall philosophy. His plan is totally unworkable from the insurance company side of the issue and he knows it. Walker’s mode of operation is to beat people down and make sure they have less than they did before. Repealing the Affordable Care Act on day one is impossible. The GOP hasn’t done it in seven years why would anything change. Even a GOP activist US Supreme Court has upheld the ACA. Seventeen candidates and no leaders is a sad state of affairs for the GOP. The GOP circus continues.

    • Submitted by Robert Ryan on 08/19/2015 - 02:15 pm.

      Not Exactly

      According to press reports:

      Walker spoke and took questions at an invitation only crowd at Cass Screw Machine Products. Two protesters showed up and left when the police asked them to leave.

      He attended a number of fundraising events.

      He met with GOP legislators.

      He spoke to 200 GOP Party Regulars at O’Gara’s at a fundraiser sponsored by the Minnesota Jobs Coalition.

      I don’t think there’s a lot of evidence that he went out of his way to meet with real middle class people.

      • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/19/2015 - 04:29 pm.

        You’ve never been to O’Gara’s apparently

        That’s about as “regular people” as you can get.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/19/2015 - 05:22 pm.

          You didn’t hear

          That O’Gara’s was closed to the general public for the event.

        • Submitted by Tom Christensen on 08/20/2015 - 12:43 am.

          No matter the party

          All photo ops are as phony as the day is long. They are set up, orchestrated, worthless, and do nothing but make the politician look foolish. I believe there were 4 questions at Cass Screw. You can bet they were prescreened and softball all to fit into Walker’s so called message. God help a politician if anything unscripted should happen. It is all part of the political circus, this time it was the GOP circus.

      • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 08/19/2015 - 04:58 pm.

        Not to mention

        The Walker campaign screened questions from reporters when answering questions regarding his health care policy.

  4. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 08/19/2015 - 06:05 pm.

    Let’s see now:

    1. Tying tax credits to age instead of income, so a millionaire would get the same credit (and it’s a set monetary amount, not a percentage of income) as a day laborer of the same age. Gee, that makes sense.

    2. Using tax credits at all. A wealthy person can wait a year for a tax credit. A poor person needs money NOW.

    3. Health Savings Accounts: I looked into these. They assume that you have enough money to pay normal insurance premiums (not any cheaper than regular insurance) PLUS 1/12 of your deductible each month, not to mention the fact that they still have deductibles.

    4. Reducing mandates. Yes, when I was insurance shopping in Oregon, I was offered some really low-cost policies. The trouble was, they not only lacked coverage for things that were irrelevant to me (smoking-related illnesses, drug abuse) but also lacked coverage for things that were potential problems (cancer, despite two negative biopsies) and for anything that I had ever had (including broken bones, because I broke my arm when I was eleven.) In other words, this “coverage” was even more of a transparent moneymaking scheme than insurance in Minnesota is. (“Non-profit,” which doesn’t mean that they can’t pay their executives sky-high compensation or have luxurious headquarters.)

    Let’s just give private insurance some REAL competition and gradually allow everyone to go on Medicare if they wish. Adding younger, healthier people to the mix will actually shore up the system’s finances.

  5. Submitted by Bill Willy on 08/19/2015 - 06:09 pm.

    Good question

    Forbes says, “… there’s one key question that Walker’s plan barely tries to answer: how it will keep all those promises without increasing the deficit?” (by $1.1 Trillion)

    Going to go out on the limb and guess the answer is, it won’t.

    It may be important to remember Scott learned everything he knows sitting at his college dorm room desk in his shirt and tie listening to “Supply Side Explained” cassette tapes while staring at and meditating upon the framed photo of Ronald Reagan he kept there until he packed it all up and dropped out because, after three years of that, he felt complete and fully-readied for the pursuit of his True Destiny and in no further need of what had become nothing more than the charade of meaningless education.

    “Tie tax credits to age, not income; eliminate Obamacare’s regulations, like insurance mandates; and insurance costs will drop by 25 percent.”

    You bet.

    But even if they go up instead of down, don’t worry. If there’s one thing Scott learned from Ron it’s the awesome magic and power of the Public Credit Card. It’s even better than Magic Beans. It makes it possible to cut taxes while ballooning the deficit and the debt – which keeps the Financial Services Industry (Tim Pawlenty works for) happy and contributing by guaranteeing them their (additional) cut of (future) taxpayer’s money – AND, maybe the coolest thing of all, let’s you crow about never ever raising taxes while blaming your opponents for the deficit and debt THEY racked up with their outrageous spending on “social programs” that are nothing more than a mechanism for transferring YOUR wealth to THEM.

    And really, given the amounts R. Reagan, G. Bush Sr and Jr added to the national debt, what would another $1.1 Trillion be? Almost nobody would notice it.

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