Tuesday, May 25, 2021

In WisGOP World, stimulus and Obamacare is good. But not for Obamacare's Medicaid expansion

For 8 years, I've talked about how fiscally and morally stupid it is that Wisconsin Republicans haven't taken the Medicaid expansion that is part of the Affordable Care Act. And it's extra stupid now, because due to a provision in President Biden's stimulus bill (aka ARPA), the state would save an extra $1 billion on top of the $600 million we already would have saved.

I wasn't even planning to discuss today's pathetic gavel-in, gavel-out of Governor Evers' special session to expand Medicaid, because why bother? At this point, these Koched-up fools are going to do, and it's going to take many of them getting blown out of office for that to change.

But then Assembly Speaker Robbin' Vos, Senate GOP Leader Devin LeMahieu, and the two GOP Chairs of the Joint Finance Committee released this letter to Governor Evers, and it was lame and pathetic even by these guys' absurdly low standards.

First, the Republicans say that there's no need to expand Medicaid because we do a swell enough job getting the working poor covered in Wisconsin.
Let’s start with the facts. As you know, Medicaid is a $10.6 billion state-run program which is jointly funded by the federal government and the State of Wisconsin. It has more than 1.1 million enrollees, providing government-run health care to roughly one infive people in the state. BadgerCare covers every Wisconsinite with an income under the federal poverty level (FPL) as well as children and pregnant women in households with incomes up to 300 percent of the FPL.

Once those thresholds have been reached, households with income between 100 percent and 400 percent of the FPL are eligible to receive heavily subsidized coverage through the federal health insurance exchanges. This means there is no gap in coverage between when someone is no longer eligible for BadgerCare and when they become eligible for federal subsidies for the insurance exchanges. Wisconsin is the only state that didn’t expand Medicaid that has no such gap in coverage.
So we don't need to expand Medicaid because Obamacare gives subsidies to people buying insurance on Obamacare exchanges. The same Obamacare that Republicans tried to strike down for years! Apparently it's not all bad now, is it?

That's quite the pretzel logic, but it's a mere warmup for the even lamer reasonings that the WisGOPs give later on.
By adding childless, working-aged adults earning up to 138 percent of the FPL to Medicaid, who are eligible for significant assistance on the federal exchange, state taxpayers would be responsible for covering some of the extra costs. However, when someone in that group enrolls on the exchanges using subsidies which are 100 percent federally funded, there is no cost passed on to state taxpayers.
In addition to the open desire to freeload off of Federal tax dollars, what's not mentioned is that under Medcaid expansion, the Feds would cover 30% more of the expenses of those under the poverty line, replacing state tax dollars. That's a big reason why we would have saved hundreds of millions of state tax dollars for each of the last 8 years, even before the Biden bill gave this billion dollar bonus!

And here's the topper.
Additionally, some the of items you proposed to be funded with the pot of reimbursement money from the federal government to expand Medicaid can already by paid for with the ARPA funds that are at your sole discretion to allocate. Will you finally be releasing your plan on funding those projects rather than using them as fodder for increasing welfare in Wisconsin?

So the WisGOPs want Governor Evers to use stimulus dollars to pay for Medicaid....but not to get an extra $1 billion in stimulus dollars to pay for Medicaid EXPANSION.

(Jake blinks furiously)

The only way that makes an ounce of sense is if WisGOP's main strategy is to have the Biden stimulus funds be used in less effective ways, and to limit state investment in other areas. This would hold back Wisconsin's economy, and (WisGOP hopes) can hurt the electoral prospects of Evers and other Dems in 2022.

Along with bribes of campaign cash from RW oligarchs, that is why the WisGOPs are doing this. They don't care about making things better for Wisconsinites. It's all about power and posing - doing what's right has nothing to do with that in WisGOP World. And they will keep doing it until voters take them down, and take them down hard.

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