Photo by Michelle Stocker, The Capital Times

Just hours after casting doubts on whether his caucus had the votes to pass a bill providing protections for those with pre-existing conditions, Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald reversed course and said the Senate would pass the legislation “if it becomes necessary.”

Health care has become a major issue on the campaign trail this fall with Dems accusing Republicans of seeking to undermine protections for those with pre-existing conditions with efforts in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act and a lawsuit seeking to have it declared unconstitutional.

Gov. Scott Walker has vowed those protections will remain as long as he’s in office, and AG Brad Schimel has defended his lawsuit challenging Obamacare by saying “every” legislator supports a state bill that would provide those assurances if the challenge were successful.

But Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said after a luncheon yesterday while he wouldn’t rule out passing the bill, “I know I got members that probably are not on board, which is one of the reasons that it wasn’t something that we tackled at the end of session.”

Later in the afternoon, he issued a statement, “Pre-existing conditions are covered right now, and I support that policy. If it becomes necessary to cover them in the future, the senate would pass a bill to do so.”

The Assembly bill protecting pre-existing conditions in the state cleared the chamber in June 2017, but failed to pass the Senate. Despite casting doubt on the bill’s prospects in his chamber, Fitzgerald yesterday alluded to the bill’s political clout as a reason he would keep it under consideration.

Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, ripped Fitzgerald’s shift.

“The constant flip flopping and broken promises from Republicans are why voters don’t trust them to do what’s right when it comes to standing up for families with pre-existing conditions,” she said. “If Sen. Fitzgerald is serious about supporting the current protections he’d call on Gov. Walker and AG Schimel to drop the lawsuit.”

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