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Health execs question Senate timeline for reform bill

A pair of Milwaukee-area health executives said a week is not enough time for the Senate to consider a proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act unveiled Thursday.

The statements – made by Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative CEO Cathy Mahaffey and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Executive Vice President Bob Duncan – echo remarks this week from Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who told CNN Wednesday he “can’t imagine, quite honestly, that I’d have the information to evaluate and justify a yes vote within just a week.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wants a vote next week, reports The Hill.

“It requires more time,” Mahaffey said at an event Wednesday hosted by the Milwaukee Press Club. Many of her members gained health insurance for the first time through the Affordable Care Act. She said she’s “disillusioned” a decision this important would be rushed.

Mahaffey and Duncan both said they oppose the American Health Care Act passed by the House.

Mahaffey also joined fellow panelist John Bartkowski, the recently retired CEO of Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers, in criticizing the lack of input from healthcare groups.

“We’d be better served if there were real folks around the table that know how this functions,” she said.

“Do you really want politicians writing your healthcare bill? Do you really want lobbyists writing your healthcare bill,” Bartkowski said. “I don’t. They have no experience in any of this. They don’t have a clue how to operationalize a lot of this.”

Todd Catlin, another panelist at the event, expressed hesitant support for the House-passed American HealthCare Act, but said it’s a moot point because of the changes the Senate is planning to make.

Meanwhile, Gov. Scott Walker issued a statement Wednesday calling on Republican members of the Senate to move forward with a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

“Republican Senators vowed to repeal and replace Obamacare if they had a chance,” Walker said. “Well, now is their chance. There are no excuses.”

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