EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- State and local Democrats are blasting a Republican backed replacement to the Affordable Care Act calling it "secretive" and "manipulative".
Republican lawmakers are crafting new health care legislation, behind closed doors, which is drawing criticism from state Democrats like Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin.
Baldwin said, “It's really important that we discuss and understand the potential impact of this measure and frankly fight to stop it.”
A state Democratic hearing was live-streamed Wednesday afternoon, of which Baldwin was a participant; she says the reform would devastate rural America.
“It would threaten already struggling rural hospitals and clinics with reduced revenue and they’re already struggling, it could mean closure for some, and certainly that would reduce access for care for people living in rural areas in Wisconsin,” explained Baldwin.
A Democratic rally was also held at the site for the new Marshfield Clinic hospital on Wednesday.
The group joined health care interest groups around the country who are protesting the GOP’s sweeping rewrite of health care laws.
Eau Claire Democrat Carol Craig said, “Right now they’re revamping a health care law that will impact millions of people in secret, that’s just plain wrong.”
Eau Claire Democrat June Hootmen said the reform would be detrimental to those with preexisting conditions.
Hootmen explained, “People will die because they don't have healthcare, people with conditions that need medication to treat it will be given medications that get them by for a weekend but don't treat the disease
But Republicans say Democrats knew a repeal was coming following the November election.
In a statement Governor Scott Walker said, "The current system is not working. Senate Republicans need to keep their promise and repeal and replace Obamacare."
However Democrats are calling for transparency saying they want public hearings to understand what the Republican backed health care plan will include.
Craig added, “My biggest concern is that it will go to a vote and not even the Republican senators will know what they're voting on. It will become a carnival atmosphere where the vote becomes more important than the substance in the bill.”
Eau Clarie Republican Brian Westrate says given the scope of the issue it is likely transparency as possible and says the focus should remain on fixing the health insurance system.
Westrate explained, “How do we actually we solve the problems the ACA theoretically attempted to solve in the first place, which is incredibly high cost of care, nontransparent services, non-connectivity between the user and the costs. How do we address those issues that remain and persistent problem and have only been exacerbated by the ACA.”
At stake is health coverage for 23 million Americans.
Senate Republicans are set to unveil a draft of their bill Thursday, two months after the original GOP backed American Health Care Act, with a goal of a final vote next week.