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President Obama visits Milwaukee to discuss Affordable Care Act, bipartisan agreement

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President Barack Obama rewarded Milwaukee with a visit today after the city won the “White House’s Healthy Communities Challenge” in February.

The “Healthy Communities Challenge” tested 20 cities to enroll their residents in Affordable Care Act plans in the health insurance marketplace. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that 89,480 Milwaukee residents bought plans, winning the city the competition.

Throughout his speech, at the United Community Center on 1028 S. 9th St., Obama discussed his health care law, the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, and emphasized that health care should be a non-partisan issue.

“(The ACA) wasn’t about Democrats or Republicans,” Obama said. “It was about our values as Americans.”

The President acknowledged that many Republicans are skeptical of the ACA. In January, he vetoed a bill from Congress that was designed to repeal the policy. He pointed out that the ACA created jobs, caused premiums to increase at a slower rate, cut deficits and insured around 89,000 Milwaukee residents.

“Facts and evidence don’t comport with (Republicans’) conviction(s) that the ACA means an end to the American way,” Obama said.

Kathleen Cunningham, a 101-year-old Milwaukee citizen. Photo by McKenna Oxenden /mckenna.oxenden@mu.edu

He added that Republicans haven’t come up with a solution for replacing the ACA.

“If (Republicans) got their way, 20 million people will have their insurance taken away,” Obama said.

The president also mentioned how Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker rejected a Medicaid expansion.

“Milwaukee, while you worked your tails off to (insure) enough folks to fill Lambeau Field, your governor still refuses to expand Medicaid,” Obama said. “He’s denying Wisconites their ticket to health insurance, and it’s political.”

However, Obama expressed some hope for bipartisan agreement – something he regrets having little of during his presidency. Brent Brown, a Republican from Mosinee, who wrote a letter telling Obama, “You saved my life,” introduced Obama.

Before the ACA was passed, Brown suffered from a serious autoimmune disease and was unable to pay for insurance. Now he is able to receive the care he needs.

“I’ve never voted for President Obama,” Brown said. “But thanks to his fortitude, thanks to his unwavering vision of mercy, even towards me, this chump gets a second chance at life.”

Like Brown, many of Obama’s supporters were grateful for the ACA.  Supporters of all ages came and listened to the president speak.

Marquette alumnus Isral DeBruin attended the speech and said the president’s remarks were a reminder of the positive impact the ACA has made.

“He highlighted key attributes of the law that people sometimes forget about,” DeBruin said. “It’s done some serious good, and getting rid of it would be a mistake.”

Daniela Camillero, an eighth grade student at the Bruce Guadalupe Community School in Milwaukee, said she was inspired by Obama’s remarks.

“I learned a lot from it,” Camillero said about the speech. “It made me grateful I live in Milwaukee.”

Before the event, Kathleen Cunningham, a 101-year-old Milwaukee citizen, said she was looking forward to listening to the president speak. She smiled and said, “He’s my boy.”

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About the Writer
Rebecca Carballo, Managing Editor of the Marquette Tribune

Rebecca is the managing editor of the Marquette Tribune as well as a senior majoring in journalism with a minor in political science. She has interned with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service and WISN 12.

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