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The Latest: Assembly passes pre-existing coverage bill

January 22, 2019

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Latest on the state Assembly taking up a bill that would guarantee health insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions (all times local):

5:15 p.m.

Assembly Republicans have passed a bill that would force health insurers to cover pre-existing conditions.

The chamber passed the bill 76-19 on Tuesday. The measure goes next to the state Senate.

Assembly Republicans pushed the bill after Democrats hit them on the campaign trail last year on pre-existing conditions, noting that Republican leaders joined a multistate lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act. Parts of the act guarantee coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers demanded Republicans tweak the bill to eliminate annual and lifetime limits on coverage as well as provide coverage for mothers and newborns and for prescription drugs.

Assembly Republicans tweaked the bill Tuesday to prohibit annual and lifetime limits but scrapped the rest of Evers’ requests.

The bill’s prospects look murky in the Senate. That body let a similar bill die last session. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald’s spokesman says Senate Republicans will discuss the measure next week.

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2:30 p.m.

Gov. Tony Evers’ spokeswoman says he’ll be very disappointed if Republicans don’t include all the changes he wants in a bill that guarantees health insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions.

The Assembly was expected to vote on the bill Tuesday. Evers asked Republican leaders last week for revisions, including prohibiting annual and lifetime coverage limits and providing coverage for mothers and newborns as well as prescription drugs.

Assembly Republicans plan to amend the bill to prohibit the annual and lifetime limits before the vote but Speaker Robin Vos is leaving the rest of Evers’ tweaks out of the measure. He says he wants the bill to focus on pre-existing conditions.

Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff says it would be very disappointing if Republicans don’t agree with him that coverage for maternity and newborn care is an essential health benefit.

She says Evers will review any changes to the bill but he doesn’t support GOP efforts to “enshrine into state law lesser benefits for few Wisconsinites.”

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1:40 p.m.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says Republicans will amend a bill that guarantees health insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions to prohibit annual and lifetime coverage limits.

The Assembly is set to vote on the bill Tuesday. Democrats have complained the bill doesn’t go far enough. Gov. Tony Evers asked Republican leaders last week for a host of changes, including prohibiting the coverage limits and guaranteeing coverage for services for mothers and newborns as well as prescription drugs.

Vos told reporters before the Assembly took the floor that Evers’ request on to prohibit annual and lifetime restrictions are reasonable. State Rep. Mike Rohrkaste, one of the bills’ authors, said the measure removes people’s two greatest fears: they won’t get coverage and coverage will be limited.

Vos said the Assembly won’t meet the rest of Evers’ demands, saying the bill should be narrowly focused on pre-existing conditions. He said he would be disappointed if Evers refused the sign the new bill, saying Republicans are compromising and a rejection would be a sign that Evers believes things need to be “my way or the highway.”

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9:15 a.m.

Assembly Republicans are gearing up to pass a bill that would guarantee health insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions.

The Assembly is set to begin debate on the measure Tuesday afternoon. The back-and-forth could be contentious. Minority Democrats say the bill doesn’t go far enough and have pointed out that Republicans support repealing the Affordable Care Act and even went so far as to prohibit new Democratic Gov. Tony Evers from withdrawing the state from a lawsuit challenging the federal reforms.

Evers, for his part, wants numerous changes to the state bill, including no annual or lifetime coverage limits, coverage for mothers and newborns and coverage for prescription drugs.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says his caucus may amend the bill during the debate to assuage some of Evers’ concerns.

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