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Take Two: Leah Vukmir Reiterates Pre-existing Conditions Distortion During Second Senate Debate

By October 14, 2018No Comments

Washington, DC – Last night, Leah Vukmir continued to desperately conceal her record of siding with big insurance over Wisconsinites in need of quality and affordable health care in her second debate against longtime health care leader, Senator Tammy Baldwin. Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement in response to Vukmir’s claims during the debate:

“I will dunk a basketball over Lebron James before Leah Vukmir tells the truth about health care. Once again, Leah Vukmir repeated the lie that she’d protect people with pre-existing conditions, which has been called out by factcheckers before. The thing to know about Leah Vukmir is that she’s sided with insurance companies over ordinary Wisconsinites every chance she’s gotten, whether by supporting junk insurance plans that don’t have to cover pre-existing conditions or prescription drugs or maternity care, or by voting to let big insurance companies deny coverage of cochlear implants for children.”


What Vukmir Said:

“I will fall in front of a truck before I let people go without coverage for pre-existing conditions.”  [WISC TV, 10/13/2018]

What Vukmir Has Done:

Vukmir “Supports Full Repeal Of Obamacare. Period.” “Leah understands why people are upset with Republicans who promised to repeal Obamacare and didn’t deliver. She supports full repeal of Obamacare. Period. And she won’t stop pushing for full repeal in Congress.” [, accessed 6/12/18]

Though Leah Vukmir claims she supports protections for people with pre-existing conditions, she has turned her back on Wisconsinites at every opportunity to do so.


  • Vukmir refuses to stand against a lawsuit designed to end protections for people with pre-existing conditions. This summer, the Trump Administration refused to defend against a lawsuit brought by twenty conservative states aimed at overturning the Affordable Care Act and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Leah Vukmir refuses to speak against this lawsuit, instead calling it a “necessary step.”



  • Vukmir refuses to take action at the state level against the Trump administration’s junk plan and association plan rules that let insurance companies discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. This summer, the Trump Administration finalized a junk plan rule and an association plan rule that allow insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. Experts warn that these moves will only increase the cost of comprehensive care, ultimately making it even harder for people with pre-existing conditions to get the care they need. Twenty-one states have taken or are taking action to limit the harmful effects of these junk plans, but Vukmir refuses to do the same for Wisconsin.


Vukmir Says High Risk Pools Would Be Her ‘Solution’ to Cover People With Pre-existing Conditions if the Affordable Care Act is Repealed. The statement itself acknowledges that she would give insurance companies back the power to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions. Here are some other problems with high risk pools:

  • High Risk Pools Typically Had Pre-Existing Condition Exclusions And Limited Benefits. Many such pools had pre-existing condition exclusion periods, limited benefits, and enrollment limits; all of these characteristics served to reduce the value of the coverage, creating high financial burdens for enrollees and limiting the number of people who could access the coverage.” [Health Affairs, 3/15/16]

  • High Risk Pools’ Limited Coverage And High Costs Cause People To Remain Uninsured. Some patients also delayed care to save money, exacerbating their health conditions, and only entered the pools when their conditions became emergencies.” [Stateline, 2/16/17] Wisconsin’s previous high risk pool only covered 25,000 people, with estimates showing 2.4 million Wisconsinites live with pre-existing conditions.

  • Premiums For Coverage In High Risk Pools Were As Much As 200 Percent Higher Than The Average Rate But Covered Less Care. “High-risk pool enrollees faced substantially higher premiums than people in the normal individual market, often by as much as 150 percent to 200 percent, although some pools did offer subsidies to low-income enrollees…And stunningly, the overwhelming majority of state high-risk pools actually refused to pay for services associated with a patient’s pre-existing conditions in the first months of their enrollment.” [Center for American Progress, 2/16/17]

  • Despite High Premiums, High Risk Pools Could Still Cost The American People Over $90 Billion Annually. “The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently estimated that up to 17,875,000 people with preexisting conditions were uninsured in 2010. Had all of them been covered by high-risk pools, the cost would have been $194.8 billion in 2010 dollars, with premiums covering only $103.3 billion. Thus, states and the federal government would have needed to find $91.5 billion in additional funding to cover them all—much more than the up to $10 billion per year in federal assistance to states recently proposed by congressional Republicans.” [Commonwealth Fund, 3/29/17]