Census Figures Show Unprecedented Gains in Insurance Coverage

Wednesday, September 16, 2015 at 5:51 PM by

Number of Uninsured Drops by 100,000 in Wisconsin in 2014

The number of people with health care coverage took an unprecedented jump last year, during the first year of implementation of key parts of the federal health care reform law. The number of uninsured Americans dropped in 2014 by 8.5 million , including 100,000 fewer uninsured Wisconsinites.  

The new numbers, which were released today by the Census Bureau, provide the first comprehensive data on how the federal health care reform law affected insurance rates in 2014, after key portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) took effect.  The new figures come from the American Community Survey (ACS), and some of the highlights include the following:

  • The percentage of Americans who are uninsured dropped from 14.5% in 2013 to 11.7% in 2014.
  • Wisconsin went from a 9.1% uninsured rate in 2013 to 7.3% in 2014.
  • Read more

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Pros and Cons of New 2014 Census Bureau Data on Health Insurance Rates in Wisconsin Outlined in New WCCF Report

Monday, September 14, 2015 at 4:30 PM by

The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) will release new data reflecting the number of uninsured individuals in Wisconsin and across the nation. Many of the ACA’s major laws, including access to health coverage through both the federal and state-based insurance marketplaces went into effect in 2014 and the data will help provide important insights regarding the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on the uninsured rate in 2014. However, given our analysis of more recent enrollment data, as well as the fact that the ACS data reflects a monthly average of survey data, the new ACS data won’t fully reflect the gains in health insurance enrollment in Wisconsin since January 2014.BC+ and Marketplace Enrollment 2013-15 FINAL-02-02

WCCF has prepared a new report, “New Census Data Won’t Fully Reflect Health Insurance Gains,” outlining areas in which the new ACS data will shed light on the growth in access to health insurance since major provisions to the Affordable Care Act were implemented, as well as an explanation as to why the new data won’t entirely reflect the growth in health insurance coverage in Wisconsin. Read more

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Policy Choices Impede Parents Trying to Escape Poverty

Tuesday, September 1, 2015 at 3:40 PM by

With Labor Day approaching, it’s a good time to reflect on all the families in Wisconsin who are struggling to work their way out of poverty. Unfortunately, many of them are held back by public policy choices made at the state and federal level, as well as changes in the workplace. These obstacles include a stagnant minimum wage, inadequate federal rules on eligibility for overtime, barriers to accessing child care and affordable health care, and the growing use of on-call scheduling of workers.   

When we think of low-wage workers, particularly those making the minimum wage, we often think of teenagers working in the fast-food industry. However, data on earnings for low-income parents paints a very different picture, as does recently updated data on the employment of people participating in BadgerCare.  Read more

Problems with Walker’s Health Care Plan Extend Far beyond Its Changes to the ACA

Wednesday, August 19, 2015 at 8:07 PM by

The health care plan unveiled this week by Governor Walker would undo many years of progress on improving access to quality, affordable health care. My biggest concern initially was that it would reverse most of the gains made over the last 5 years under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, the damage caused by the Governor’s plan would go much further than that, because it would also undo much of the progress that has been made over the last decade or two as many states improved and expanded Medicaid coverage (such as Wisconsin’s creation of BadgerCare in 1999). 

Walker plan

Under Walker’s proposal, millions of adults across the country are likely to lose their Medicaid coverage – as states restrict eligibility in response to the elimination of enhanced federal funding for Medicaid expansions. However, the damage wouldn’t stop there. By block granting Medicaid funding,  states would almost certainly be compelled to dial back eligibility and the scope of services. Read more

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Number of Uninsured Drops Sharply in 2014 and 2015

Tuesday, August 11, 2015 at 3:04 PM by

Preliminary Figures Suggest Strong Improvement in Wisconsin 

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has dramatically reduced the number of uninsured adults, according to new data released by Gallup this week. A nationwide poll of about 88,000 people during the first 6 months of 2015 found that the percentage of adults who were uninsured dropped to 11.7% this year, compared to 13.4% in the second and third quarters of 2014 and 17.3% in 2013. More specifically, the uninsured rate among adults was 11.9% in the first quarter of 2015 and fell to just 11.4% during the second quarter. 

The Gallup polling also includes state-level data, and those figures show especially large improvements in insurance coverage in the states that have expanded Medicaid and have embraced the ACA. The seven states with the largest percentage point gains in coverage (AR, KY, OR, RI, WA, CA, & WV) are all states that have expanded Medicaid and have state-run health insurance marketplaces.  Read more

At Age 50, Medicaid Gives Wisconsin Families Reason to Celebrate

Thursday, July 30, 2015 at 9:08 AM by

Research Finds Long-term Benefits for Covering Kids

Medicaid turns 50 today, which is cause for celebration for Wisconsin children and families. It is a critically important source of health care and financial security for low-income families and individuals, including children, parents, pregnant mothers, seniors, and people with disabilities.

In Wisconsin, Medicaid helps finance BadgerCare and provides health insurance coverage for roughly 1.2 million people, including about 500,000 children.

A new report from the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University synthesizes the emerging body of research that underscores the importance of Medicaid for kids and families, including long-term benefits for children that last through adulthood. Highlights of the research findings pertaining to the sustained benefits for kids include:

  • Long-term health benefits – Children with access to Medicaid showed a 26 percentage point decline in the incidence of high blood pressure in adulthood and had lower rates of hospitalizations and emergency room visits as adults.
  • Read more

Sizing up the Sharp Drop in the Uninsured Rate

Friday, July 3, 2015 at 6:22 PM by

Now that the last significant lawsuit challenging the federal health care reform law has been turned aside, it’s clear that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. However, that fact will generate more debate in Congress about the law, as its opponents turn more attention to trying to repeal the ACA.  

While that debate heats up, we need to look objectively at the evidence regarding the law’s effects – starting with the effect on insurance coverage.  In this blog post I’ve pulled together the best available survey data regarding the effects of the ACA on the number of Americans and Wisconsinites who are uninsured.  Read more

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Pennsylvania and Delaware Pave a Pathway for Preserving Health Insurance Subsidies

Tuesday, June 23, 2015 at 6:42 PM by

A Supreme Court decision expected within the next week could price health insurance out of reach for millions of Americans, including most of the 183,000 Wisconsinites insured through the federal Marketplace; however, state officials could head off that outcome.  In Wisconsin it’s particularly important for state lawmakers to remedy the problem because they made our state more reliant on federal subsidies for the Marketplace when they ended BadgerCare eligibility for about 60,000 adults and 3,000 children. Read more

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Wisconsin Has More at Stake than Most States if Court Ends Insurance Subsidies

Wednesday, June 17, 2015 at 5:38 PM by

Wisconsin has more at stake than most other states when the U.S. Supreme Court issues a ruling in King v. Burwell, which will determine whether people can continue to get federal tax credits for health care coverage purchased through the federal health insurance marketplace. Read more

In Some Parts of Budget, JFC Shows Affinity for Federal Funding

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 5:47 PM by

By Siphoning off More TANF Funding to Pay for the EITC, Committee Undercuts Arguments Against Using Federal Funds 

The Joint Finance Committee votes Thursday, May 21, on a wide range of Medicaid issues, including whether to expand BadgerCare and save upwards of $345 million that could help prevent deep cuts in higher education and other parts of the budget. The most frequent argument made by conservatives against capturing that federal assistance is that we shouldn’t accept federal funding that might not be secure. However, if you were carefully watching the Finance Committee’s budget votes last Thursday you would have gotten a very different perspective on the willingness of the majority party to accept federal funding.  

There were at least two times last Thursday when the JFC voted to amend the Governor’s budget in ways intended to capture or utilize more federal funding. In one case (motion #345) the committee unanimously approved new standards that will make it easier for the Department of Children and Families to close child support cases. Read more