Thursday, July 22, 2021

Hey WisGOP, don't want to be forced add more K-12 spending? Just expand Medicaid!

We already know that the rules involved in the federal stimulus bill that was passed this March had a strong effect on the state's budget deliberations later on. But those rules are still in effect throughout the 2 years of the budget, and it'll continue to be a factor as we deliberate policies going forward.
For Wisconsin schools to retain about $2.5 billion in federal aid, the state must keep education spending at the rate it has maintained in recent years. That means about 35% of the state’s overall spending must go toward K-12 and about 9% toward higher education, according to the fiscal bureau.

The budget approved this month met those requirements, keeping the federal aid intact.

The calculation is made on a rolling basis, so the state will need to put more toward education with future spending measures, the fiscal bureau concluded in a memo released Tuesday.

If an additional $100 million were spent, another $63.2 million would need to go toward K-12 and another $15.8 million toward higher education.

That would result in $179 million in more spending — 56% of which would go toward the new project, 35% toward K-12 and 9% toward higher education.
You know what would stop these “double payments” from happening? Expanding BadgerCare to reduce the amount of state tax dollars going to Medicaid. With fewer state dollars being spent, this increases the ability for the state to fund other items without having to raise K-12 spending to avoid losing those stimulus dollars.

To go on top of that, Jon Peacock of Kids Forward has a reminder that the “regular” reasons for expanding BadgerCare are still good. In addition to the savings to state taxpayers and the added availability of Medicaid as an option for tens of thousands of Wisconsinites, Peacock says many low-income working Wisconsinites can’t get assistance that would help them pay for policies that they are able to acquire on the Obamacare exchanges.
Under the terms of the ACA, a worker and their spouse cannot purchase a subsidized Marketplace plan if the worker could buy an employer plan with premiums that are less than 9.83% of the household’s income. Even in the not-uncommon cases when a plan has very high copays and deductibles, or when a family plan that would include the worker’s spouse has premiums far above 9.83% of their income, they are still ineligible for help from the Marketplace.

Imagine having a chronic health condition and a job that pays just $8 or $9 per hour. Your employer offers health insurance, but as we know, there are more costs to consider: the plan requires you to pay hundreds or even thousands to cover your medication and treatment, on top of premiums that cost 9.5% of your meager income. When all is paid, you don’t have much left to cover the cost of rent, food, utilities and transportation.

Your employer plan isn’t an affordable option, but it disqualifies you from being eligible for a subsidized plan through the ACA Marketplace. Expanding BadgerCare would keep people in this situation from falling through the cracks by ensuring they can access comprehensive health insurance with little or no out-of-pocket costs.
Which sort of puts away the GOP line of “well, you can always get a policy on the Obamacare exchanges.

So let’s see – more Wisconsinites insured, state taxpayer dollars saved and budget stabilized after stimulus funds wear off in 2 years, and no need to worry about losing billions in stimulus aid for K-12 schools every time we want to fund any other program. Is there any real reason WisGOP wouldn’t expand BadgerCare at this point?

Ah, Koch addiction. Got it.

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