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

Categories: Blog, federal issues, HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES, health care reform | Comments Off on Wisconsin Bill Does Little to Protect People with Preexisting Conditions

Out of Sync: Wisconsin Lawmakers Still in Search of Agreement on Major Components of State Budget

Friday, June 23, 2017 at 10:09 AM by

After several weeks of deliberating, Wisconsin lawmakers have settled large chunks of the state budget but are still working out disagreements in the areas of K-12 education, transportation finance, and taxes.

In the meantime, Assembly Republicans have released their own version of a K-12 education budget. A new summary by the Wisconsin Budget Project compares the Assembly version to Governor Walker’s proposed education budget, highlighting the areas in which the two versions are different. The Assembly version allocates about $90 million less in state funding overall to K-12 schools and would result in slightly higher taxes for property owners compared to the Governor’s budget. Education advocates generally favor the Governor’s budget over the Assembly’s version.

In an effort to come to agreement, Assembly and Senate leaders have been meeting behind closed doors to discuss the education budget, and news reports indicate they are close to reaching an agreement.

On Thursday, Democrats released their own plan, which would allocate significantly more funding to schools. Read more

Lawmakers Seek to Rescind Voters’ Decisions to Raise Resources for Local Schools on an On-going Basis

Thursday, June 22, 2017 at 1:24 PM by

Wisconsin lawmakers have proposed stripping nearly $200 million in voter-approved resources from school districts across the state as part of a package of legislation aimed at making it more difficult for voters to raise taxes on themselves to pay for schools.

The state sets a budget cap for each individual school district, limiting the amount of money a district may spend to educate students from the combination of general state aid and local property taxes. Voters in a district can override the budget cap – either permanently or for a set period of time – by approving a referendum.

Lawmakers have proposed eliminating the ability of voters to permanently raise budget caps, as well as invalidating past referendums in which voters permanently raised budget caps (Assembly Bill 268/Senate Bill 195). Voters would still be able to lift budget caps on a temporary basis, but only for up to five years at a time. Read more

Categories: Blog, EDUCATION, K-12 | Comments Off on Lawmakers Seek to Rescind Voters’ Decisions to Raise Resources for Local Schools on an On-going Basis

President Trump’s Budget Would Make it Harder for Wisconsin to Strengthen its Workforce

Monday, June 19, 2017 at 10:49 AM by

President Trump visited the Milwaukee area last week, tweeting that he was “heading to the Great State of Wisconsin to talk about “JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!” Expanding opportunities for workers and developing the state’s workforce should be a top priority for policymakers at both the state and federal levels, but President Trump’s rhetoric doesn’t match his actions on this issue. His proposed budget makes deep cuts to the federal resources that Wisconsin uses to develop the state’s skilled and work-ready labor force.

Trump jobs tweet

In his visit to Waukesha County Technical College, President Trump emphasized the importance of developing a skilled workforce, declaring that “America must not only teach, but celebrate skilled labor.” But the 2018 budget he proposed would deeply cut federal funding for programs and services that states deliver that are critical for the development of a healthy, well-educated workforce – programs like Medicaid, which helps people with low incomes see a doctor when they need one, and SNAP (previously known as food stamps), which helps people with low incomes put food on the table. Read more

Categories: Blog, FEDERAL BUDGET & TAXES, JOBS & THE ECONOMY | Comments Off on President Trump’s Budget Would Make it Harder for Wisconsin to Strengthen its Workforce

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

Categories: Blog, HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES, health care reform, Medicaid | Comments Off on Congressional Changes to Medicaid Leave Wisconsin Behind

Kansas’ Experiment Yields Valuable Lessons

Monday, June 12, 2017 at 1:12 PM by
Kansas map

Wisconsin lawmakers should heed the warnings from Kansas

Wisconsin lawmakers advocating for additional tax cuts should consider the example of Kansas, a state that has pushed through enormous tax cuts and that has been held up by tax-cut proponents as a model worth replicating. The massive tax cuts in Kansas damaged the state’s schools, colleges and universities, and key services – and failed to improve Kansas’s economic performance.

The tax cuts passed in Kansas are larger than the ones that have been passed in Wisconsin, but otherwise they share many characteristics. In both states, tax cuts helped the rich much more than most state residents, making income inequality worse. And both states raised taxes on low-income families working to climb into the middle class.  

In the face of disappointing economic growth, Kansas lawmakers have acknowledged that they need to take a different approach, one that invests in assets that help businesses thrive, communities prosper, and hard-working families climb the economic ladder. Read more

Categories: Blog, STATE TAXES | Comments Off on Kansas’ Experiment Yields Valuable Lessons

When Work isn’t Enough: Effectively Supporting Wisconsin’s Working Families

Thursday, June 8, 2017 at 8:13 AM by

Wisconsin workers should be able to earn enough to support their families and make ends meet. But many jobs in Wisconsin don’t pay enough to lift workers’ families out of poverty, or provide the benefits that families need, according to a recent report from COWS at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The difficulty that workers have in climbing out of poverty is compounded by the fact that many of the supports that Wisconsin provides to working families are not well-aligned with the realities of low-wage jobs. Rather than fixing these supports, some Wisconsin lawmakers want to make these services even more difficult for Wisconsin workers to access.

Many jobs in Wisconsin simply don’t pay enough to make ends meet. More than 1 in 4 Wisconsin workers hold poverty-wage jobs, defined as jobs in which someone working full-time year-round would still not earn enough to keep a family of four out of poverty. Read more

Categories: Blog, ECONOMIC SECURITY | Comments Off on When Work isn’t Enough: Effectively Supporting Wisconsin’s Working Families

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
Categories: Blog, FEDERAL BUDGET & TAXES, federal issues, HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES, health care reform, Medicaid | Comments Off on Efforts to Repeal and Replace the ACA Boost the Current Law’s Support

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