Sunday, June 25, 2017

WisGOP sabotage of Obamacare has come at a high cost

With all the news in DC about the Senate GOP's TrumpCare bill, I wanted to focus in on a few notes from back here in Wisconsin that relates to this issue and health care. The first was when Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield announced that they would not offer new plans on the ACA exchanges in 2018, and they pointed directly to the turmoil in DC and Congress's past and potential future changes to those insurance exchanges.
A stable insurance market is dependent on products that create value for consumers through the broad spreading of risk and a known set of conditions upon which rates can be developed. We are pleased that some steps have been taken to address the long term challenges all health plans serving the Individual market are facing, such as improving the eligibility requirements that allow consumers to purchase a plan outside of open enrollment and improved risk adjustment. However, the Wisconsin individual market remains volatile, making planning and pricing for ACA-compliant health plans increasingly difficult due to a shrinking and deteriorating individual market, as well as continual changes and uncertainty in federal operations, rules and guidance, including cost sharing reduction subsidies and the restoration of taxes on fully insured coverage.

As a result, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield has made the difficult decision to reduce its 2018 Individual plan offering in Wisconsin to one off-exchange medical plan in Menominee County only. This decision does not affect people who previously purchased a transitional Individual or family health plan — otherwise known as grandfathered (purchased before March 2010) or grandmothered plans (purchased before December 2013) – nor does it impact Anthem’s employer-based, Medicare Advantage or Medicaid plans.
Note the part that I bolded. All of those things mentioned have been the result of Republicans in Congress trying to damage Obamacare through negligence and sabotage. With the cost-sharing subsidies being taken away and the future of the ACA being up in the air, it’s no surprise that some insurance companies aren’t willing to stick around to see what happens in 2018.

So is Governor Scott Walker going to do anything about this, to help thousands of Wisconsinites who might be in the lurch when they look for their 2018 insurance during open enrollment? OF COURSE NOT! Instead he threw out a gleeful press release saying how “Obamacare is collapsing”. Classy, caring guy, isn’t he?

And while Walker says Wisconsinites “deserve better health care coverage options and the time to act is now,” he offers nothing to fix the problems caused by GOP sabotage of the exchanges. This includes Walker’s turning down of federally-funded expanded Medicaid, which forced many people near the poverty line to get insurance through the same exchanges that the GOP in DC are trying to screw up.

Walker claimed that other state should copy his “reforms” that opened Medicaid to all Wisconsinites living below the poverty line (while kicking off many parents and caregivers who were living above it), and Scotty tried to hype up Wisconsin’s low amount of uninisured individuals as some kind of self-promoting proof that his plans work. Well sorry Scotty, you didn’t build that, and in fact Wisconsin is lower in the national rankings since you took over after 2010 (the Census Bureau is a good source for this).

National ranking for least uninsured, Wisconsin
2007 4th
2008 5th
2009 4th
2010 5th
2011 9th
2012 7th
2013 T-7th
2014 7th
2015 T-6th

While you can debate whether Walker's decision not to take the expanded Medicaid was a good or bad thing, what you cannot deny is that it has come at a high price to Wisconsin taxpayers. We are slated to pay more than $1.1 billion a year above what we paid 6 years ago, when Walker and the WisGOP Legislature decided against Medicaid expansion.

State funding for Medicaid assistance program benefits

This cost would go higher if the Senate GOP's bill that severely cuts Medicaid becomes law, since Wisconsin taxpayers would have to make up the difference to maintain coverage. Or it would result in significant reductions in the number of people receiving Medicaid. These are the choices that would have to be made, and Scott Walker should have to be put on the spot as to what choice he would make if TrumpCare ever becomes law.

It was heartening to see Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning spare no words in calling out GOP actions that have led to Obamacare's exchanges becoming less effective, and the Wisconsin budgetary difficulties that are a direct result of this WisGOP "politics over policy" mentality.

"The majority of Americans want everyone to have access to affordable health care, and yet since it's inception, Republicans in Wisconsin have sought to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.

"Gov. Scott Walker rejected the federal funds available for Medicaid Expansion and priced tens of thousands of his own constituents out of health care insurance. Adding insult to injury, it's the taxpayers who paid mightily for his decision that cost our state $679 million - and health care experts warn that the state would lose out on $37 billion in federal funds by 2025.

"It's unacceptable for Wisconsin Republicans to hold their own constituents health care hostage just to score political points with extremists instead of doing the right thing for all Americans. Wisconsin Republicans should urge their colleagues to ensure all Americans have access to health care - not supporting taking health insurance away from 23 million people."

And I was glad to hear Laning use this word, which is one that Dems should yell long and loud over the next 17 months. Because most of the problems of the ACA (other than its reliance on private insurance companies) is because of the GOP willfully damaging it, and disrupting the lives of tens of millions of Americans in the process

1 comment:

  1. And here is Dave Zwiefel in today's Capital Times also using the "S word" to describe WisGOP's act.

    "It's more important to the Republican Party and charlatans like Walker to destroy Obamacare than to actually improve health coverage for the American people."

    He's right, you know.