(WISCONSIN) — Ahead of the vice presidential debate, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Ben Wikler, 35th Assembly Candidate Tyler Ruprecht, and Tina Pohlman, who has pre-existing conditions, held a video press conference to tell their stories and discuss the Trump administration’s efforts to strip health care protections. Access to quality and affordable health care is at the top of Wisconsinites’ minds as the election approaches, and Trump has ruthlessly undermined the health care system, putting the coverage of 2.4 million Wisconsinites with pre-existing conditions at risk.

Watch the full event here or read excerpts of what the speakers said below.

Chair Ben Wikler: “What we won’t hear from Mike Pence tonight is that this administration is trying to take away the health care protections of 2.4 million Wisconsinites with pre-existing conditions in a moment when the COVID pandemic is giving thousands more Wisconsinites potential pre-existing conditions and even taking their lives. Wisconsin is currently experiencing some of the highest rates of COVID-19 spread since the pandemic began, and hospitals are nearing capacity all over the state, all because the Trump administration and Wisconsin Republicans have not only failed to address the virus but actively sabotaged the response… At every turn, we’ve seen Donald Trump and the Republican Party and Mike Pence lie about their attacks on health care, actively undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and mislead Americansabout the necessity of wearing masks and taking precautions to control the spread of this pandemic… While Republicans have relentlessly assaulted the protections Americans rely on, Kamala Harris has been a powerful voice for the fundamental idea that all Americans deserve protections and care… Health care coverage is on the ballot this November and it is vital that we throw out Trump’s vicious attacks on our protections and support Biden and Harris as they work to expand and protect the well being of millions of Americans.”

Tyler Ruprecht: “Cost should never be a barrier for people to access the preventive care they need to survive. Since Donald Trump took office, he has done everything he can to undermine the Affordable Care Act… He has broken every promise he ever made during his campaign. He has also broken his promises to lower health care and prescription drug costs… We need leaders in Congress, the state legislature, and of course the presidency that will prioritize health care and stand up for people like my grandfather and I. That’s what my grandfather deserved and that’s what Wisconsinites still deserve. Now in his honor, I am personally fighting to build a better health care system for Wisconsin.  And we need leaders both in Madison and in Washington who are in this fight with us. That’s why the Badger state deserves a President, a Congress, and a state legislature that will protect its citizens and strengthen our health care systems. That’s why it’s so important that Wisconsin sends Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the White House.”

Tina Pohlman: “I have pre-existing conditions — Lupus and Antiphospholipid Syndrome, both of which are autoimmune disorders. To keep these illnesses under control I take over 20 medications, and without the coverage I receive, and without the protections for my pre-existing conditions I have thanks to the ACA, my medications would cost $50,000. That is why Trump’s constant attacks on the ACA and protections for pre-existing conditions are a personal threat to my life and the lives of those I fight for every day. In the middle of a pandemic, Trump and his Justice Department are trying to deny over 2.4 million Wisconsinites with pre-existing conditions. Trump and his administration, with their attacks on our health care system, food stamps, energy assistance, and assisted living, are relentlessly working to make our lives more difficult… COVID-19 disproportionately affects those of us with pre-existing conditions, and it is clear than ever that the Trump administration does not believe that we deserve protection, as he callously uses a pandemic to strip coverage when we need it most. The president has the best health care in the world, and yet his policy goals would leave the rest of us scratching and clawing for even basic coverage that would ultimately bankrupt us if we were to get sick.”

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