Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Walker health care plans are shameless flip-flops that show Dems were right

As our Governor gave what had better his last State of the State address today, I wanted to go over some of his pre-election plans for health coverage in Wisconsin.

As you may have heard, our governor now wants the state to pay extra tax dollars to help people get health care coverage, including offsetting the costs of some of the coverage Wisconsinites may get through the insurance exchanges that are part of the Affordable Care Act.

In itself, that sounds like something that could have agreement from a lot of people at the Capitol. But it is a breathtaking stance given that the Governor was throwing out this garbage only 7 months ago.

But now Walker wants to shell out $50 million in state dollars (and another $150 million in federal dollars) to reduce rising premiums for people who get insurance plan through the “collapsing” Obamacare exchanges. And he also wants to make the state’s prescription drug program for seniors permanent after trying to kill and/or screw it up for the last 4 years.
With legislative approval, Walker also plans to request a federal reinsurance waiver in an effort to lower premiums for the more than 200,000 Wisconsinites who are covered under the individual market. He is also seeking a permanent extension on Wisconsin's SeniorCare program, which allows seniors age 65 and older to purchase prescription drugs at a lower rate….

"Seniors have basically had to beg Governor Walker to renew it for the past ten years," [State Sen. Jon] Erpenbach said in a statement. "Again — glad he is finally willing to commit to always renewing the SeniorCare waiver — something he has never been willing to do before."
The other remarkable turnaround deals with Walker now wanting to protect individuals with pre-existing conditions from being charged high prices by insurance companies if the ACA is further deformed and/or repealed.
In his State of the State address on Wednesday, Walker plans to ask lawmakers to approve a set of three proposals he calls his "health care stability plan." One of his requests is for the Senate to pass a bill approved by the Assembly in June barring insurance companies from denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions.
But there’s a giant loophole that this bill has, as the result of an amendment added in by Assembly Republicans as the measure was being debated on the floor. Here’s the explanation from Wisconsin’s Legislative Council.
Assembly Bill 365 specifies that a health insurance policy or governmental self-insured health plan is prohibited from imposing a lifetime or annual limit on the dollar value of benefits provided under the policy or plan.

Assembly Substitute Amendment 1 removes that provision and instead specifies that a health insurance policy or governmental self-insured plan is prohibited from imposing a preexisting condition exclusion under the policy or plan. A “preexisting condition exclusion” means a limitation or exclusion of benefits relating to a condition that existed before the date of enrollment for coverage.

The substitute amendment also specifies that if a person has had continuous coverage for the 12 months before the date of enrollment with no breaks in coverage for any period longer than 63 continuous days, a health insurance policy or governmental self-insured plan is prohibited from considering a preexisting condition for the purposes of setting premiums or cost-sharing provisions.
But if there WAS that break in service, people certainly could be charged more for those pre-existing conditions. And that bait-and-switch is exactly why Democrats voted against the bill when GOPs changed it in June.

Assembly Dem Leader Gordon Hintz and fellow Dem Rep. Daniel Riemer called out that flaw in the current bill, and took their names off of sponsorship of AB 365.
“The changes made to AB 365 took a bill which aimed to stop insurance companies from instituting lifetime and annual limits on coverage, and turned it into a vehicle promoting extreme Republican policies from Congress,” stated Rep. Hintz. “This cynical move has the real life impact of threatening coverage for those who need it most.

“While the Affordable Care act is still the law of the land, it is clear that Republicans will stop at nothing to weaken protections for those with pre-existing conditions. Assembly Democrats stand united in their support for the ACA and the protections it provides, therefore we have requested that our names be removed from AB 365.”…

“The substitute amendment to this bill no longer resembles the legislation I authored or the idea behind it. The changes made would weaken existing protections by allowing health insurance companies to charge people with pre-existing conditions more. Simply put, that is wrong.” said Rep. Daniel Riemer. “Our friends and neighbors with health issues deserve the stability in coverage and premiums. This bill is a direct attack on both of those key elements of quality health care.”
And when this obvious loophole was pointed out to Walker yesterday, Gov Unintimidated got a bit flustered.
"I want to sign the bill that protects preexisting conditions, so I'm not saying it has to be this bill or that bill. I just want them to get it done," Walker said following an event at Stoughton Hospital. "I'm just saying give me a bill I can sign into law that will guarantee we protect preexisting conditions."
So in other words, Walker is desperately asking the Legislature to GIVE HIM SOMETHING that might look good ahead of the 2018 elections because he knows that voters hate the GOP on health care due to their numerous attempts to repeal and deform Obamacare.

These proposals are likely sound (except for the loophole-ridden AB 365), and they would help fill the gaps that have resulted due to the GOP Congress’ refusal to fund risk corridors, and in DC’s lack of desire to impose affordable drug coverage and price regulation at the federal level. But no, Scotty, now that the Black Man is out of the White House and you’re losing in the polls, you don’t get to run from your Bagger past of trying to sabotage the ACA at every turn for the past 7 years, and leaving large amounts of Wisconsinites worse off as a result.

And now that Walker is also calling for a $122-million-a-year Child Tax Credit, passing that gimmick would take away the money available to do all or possibly any of these things Walker wants on health care without being severely handcuffed for the next budget.

Which reveals Walker's pre-election announcements as the not-serious stunts that they are, befitting of a governor who has always cared about politics and headlines over actual results. In fact, it just makes Scotty look like even more of a desperate grifter who is scared to death of having to get a real job for the first time in his adult life.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like Walker and WisGOP are getting desperate, now trying to seem "compassionate" for the election year. Their middle finger is up monitoring the air, but they sense the wind isn't going their way.

    Makes it all the more important to get facts out publicly, as the GOP continues to rely on short attention spans.