Wisconsin Bill Does Little to Protect People with Preexisting Conditions

Monday, June 26, 2017 at 5:54 PM by

Bill Passed by Assembly Fails to Close a Huge Loophole Proposed by Republicans in Congress

One of the many problems with the bill to repeal and partially replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is that it would seriously erode the current protections for millions of Americans who have preexisting health conditions. That’s a very unpopular part of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Republican health care bill, but there’s a lot of confusion about how it undermines coverage for people with chronic health conditions.

The confusion was evident during a late night debate in the Wisconsin legislature last week, when the Assembly passed a bill that would purportedly protect people with preexisting conditions, but which largely misses the mark because it fails to address a huge loophole contained in AHCA. The muddled debate after midnight on June 22nd is a great example of why there needs to be a longer and more open debate about the version of AHCA that was developed behind closed doors in recent weeks. Read more

Congressional Changes to Medicaid Leave Wisconsin Behind

Wednesday, June 14, 2017 at 5:54 PM by

AHCA Would Permanently Lock in Wisconsin’s Lower Federal Funding

Without so much as a single public hearing, Congress is close to approving huge changes to Medicaid that substantially reduce spending and radically change how funding is allocated. One of the ways that those changes will hurt Wisconsin is by permanently penalizing states like ours that currently spend well below the national average for each person in Medicaid.

One aspect of this problem has gotten some press attention this week – the way that the new funding allocation will lock into place lower federal support for the 19 states, including Wisconsin, that did not take federal Medicaid expansion funds. Jason Stein’s June 13 article in the Journal Sentinel does a nice job of covering that issue.

However, an even more basic problem is that the new funding formula would be based on each state’s average spending per Medicaid participant, which will freeze into place the lower federal funding levels in states that have had very narrow benefits and also in states with more generous benefits but more efficient use of their funding. Read more

Efforts to Repeal and Replace the ACA Boost the Current Law’s Support

Tuesday, June 6, 2017 at 5:23 PM by

Polling Shows Public Opposition to House Bill and to Medicaid Changes

The more that Congress extends the debate about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the stronger support gets for the existing law. And as people learn more about the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which is the bill the House passed last month that would repeal and replace the ACA, the more they dislike the House plan.

The latest survey results from the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll show that the majority of Americans, 55 percent, are not pleased with AHCA.   The poll also found that:

  • 55% of the public want the Senate to make major changes to the bill or just not pass it all.
  • Only 31% view the AHCA favorably, vs 49% who view the ACA favorably.
Read more

For Wisconsin, Trump Budget Would Result in an Enormous Cost Shift

Thursday, May 25, 2017 at 12:41 PM by

In addition to making deep cuts in public services, President Trump’s budget would also shift massive costs to Wisconsin at a time when our state is already struggling to meet needs for education, transportation, and other services Wisconsin residents rely on. Wisconsin likely would not be able to take on all the new costs without raising taxes, and would instead cut key investments and services that help Wisconsin families thrive.

The Trump budget would push costs onto Wisconsin for:

SNAP, formerly known as food stamps. Last year, SNAP helped 1 million Wisconsin residents – including more than 400,000 children – get enough to eat. One out of every six Wisconsinites got assistance from SNAP last year to put food on the table.

Trump’s budget proposal would make cuts to SNAP that would reduce benefits for some and eliminate them for others. His budget would also push 25% of SNAP benefit costs onto states, a change from the current full federal funding of benefits. Read more

Categories: Blog, FEDERAL BUDGET & TAXES, HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES, Medicaid | Comments Off on For Wisconsin, Trump Budget Would Result in an Enormous Cost Shift

Trump Budget Demonstrates the Perils of Changing Medicaid

Wednesday, May 24, 2017 at 5:39 PM by

Medicaid Cut Projected to Be 45% in 2026, and More in Future Years

In order to pay for huge tax cuts for corporations and wealthy Americans, the President is proposing massive Medicaid cuts – far beyond the amounts contained in the House plan to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act.

Whereas the House-passed bill is now projected to cut Medicaid by $834 billion over the next 10 years, the Trump budget unveiled this week would cut Medicaid by about $1.3 trillion, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).  The following bar graph illustrates how those cuts would get deeper over time. Read more

Negative Effects of the House Health Care Bill Keep Expanding

Tuesday, May 2, 2017 at 3:17 PM by

[UPDATE — This post was revised on May 3 to reflect the new position of Congressman Fred Upton, who has authored an amendment that might secure enough votes for House passage of the bill on May 4.]

Passage of the House plan to repeal and partially replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would make sweeping changes that negatively affect most Americans. Yet some opponents of the ACA have made the mistaken or disingenuous argument that few people would be affected.

Governor Walker, for example, told reporters on March 8 of this year that repealing and replacing the ACA with Speaker Ryan’s plan would only affect a small percentage of Wisconsinites:

“Most people aren’t going to be affected by this no matter what happens because if you get your health insurance from your employer, which is almost everybody here and almost everybody in this state, nothing changes.”

That assessment was flawed at the time, and since early March it has steadily become more apparent that most Wisconsinites could be adversely affected. Read more

Categories: Blog, federal issues, health care reform, Medicaid | Comments Off on Negative Effects of the House Health Care Bill Keep Expanding

Wisconsin Lawmakers Indicate a Willingness to Take Money from Education and Health Care to Fund Highways

Thursday, April 27, 2017 at 11:18 AM by

Governor Walker and other state lawmakers have said they are open to redirecting money from a pot intended to support education, health care, and safe communities, and using the money for roads instead. That approach could lead to future budget cuts that damage academic opportunities for Wisconsin schoolchildren, lengthen the amount of time to graduation for University of Wisconsin students, and make it harder for communities to afford important services like trash collection and street cleaning.

State road projects are funded with resources from Wisconsin’s Transportation Fund. About a decade ago, state lawmakers froze the gas tax on each gallon of gas sold – the main source of revenue for the Transportation Fund – and inflation has eaten away at the tax’s value since then, shrinking the amount of resources available to build and maintain Wisconsin’s transportation network. The result is that there is not currently nearly enough money coming into the Transportation Fund to pay for all the highway projects lawmakers want. Read more

Wisconsin Schools Benefit Greatly from Federal Medicaid Funds

Monday, April 24, 2017 at 4:02 PM by

House Plans to Cut Medicaid Would Jeopardize Critical Health Services for Students

Wisconsin schools have a lot at stake in the debate about federal support for Medicaid. Even though Wisconsin ranks 19th nationally in the size of its school-age population, our state ranks 7th highest in federal funding for Medicaid services provided by schools.

According to a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Wisconsin schools received more than $187 million for Medicaid services in 2015, including more than $107 million in federal Medicaid funds. That amount is higher than in all but six other states, despite the fact that Wisconsin ranks near the bottom in total Medicaid spending per child. These figures indicate that Wisconsin schools have done a good job of utilizing federal assistance to support school-based health services.

Medicaid provides health care for more than 1.1 million Wisconsinites, including about 500,000 children, but many people are unaware of its significance for schools. Read more

Categories: federal issues, health care reform, K-12, Medicaid | Comments Off on Wisconsin Schools Benefit Greatly from Federal Medicaid Funds

The Case for Expanding BadgerCare Grows Stronger

Thursday, April 6, 2017 at 5:57 PM by

$190 Million Annual Savings + Threats to Federal Marketplace = Stronger Case for Expansion

There are many reasons why it makes sense for Wisconsin to modestly increase the eligibility ceiling for BadgerCare. A new memo by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) sheds light on and strengthens one of those reasons – the large savings for Wisconsin from increasing the BadgerCare eligibility standard for adults.

Ironically, the ongoing efforts to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may also bolster the case for expanding BadgerCare, since the individual insurance Marketplace created by the ACA was Governor Walker’s rationale for sharply reducing BadgerCare eligibility. But let’s come back to that point after taking a closer look at the fiscal effect of expansion.

Under the Affordable Care Act, states that expand eligibility of adults to 138% of the federal poverty level are eligible for substantially higher federal cost sharing. Taking that step would qualify Wisconsin for reimbursement of at least 90% federal funding for the costs of covering childless adults, compared to the 58% reimbursement rate in effect now. Read more

Categories: 2017-19 biennial budget, BadgerCare Plus, Blog, health care reform, Medicaid | Comments Off on The Case for Expanding BadgerCare Grows Stronger

The Sneak Attack on Medicaid

Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at 6:07 PM by

House Changes Make a Terrible Bill Even Worse

The House bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) goes far beyond changing that law. Without so much as a single public hearing, the bill being voted on by the House this week also makes radical changes to the structure of the Medicaid program that provides health care coverage for about one-fifth of Americans.

The bill would impose an arbitrary cap on federal Medicaid funding, thereby shifting costs to states, health care providers, communities, and those who can least afford it. It would dismantle Medicaid’s flexible financing structure that has protected children, families, individuals with disabilities and seniors during economic downturns or when our state faced increased health care costs due to natural disasters or public health emergencies.

Rather than providing states with more flexibility, this financial restructuring would give Washington D.C. more control over Wisconsin because federal politicians would be able to lower the amount they send our state to support Medicaid.  Read more

Categories: Blog, health care reform, Medicaid | Comments Off on The Sneak Attack on Medicaid