Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Scott Walker’s Health Care Reform Created a Coverage Gap

By Lisa Kaiser
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We all know that Gov. Scott Walker has bragged about his version of health care reform. 

Of course Walker’s “reform” is more expensive than the federal effort. He refused to accept full federal funding for expanding Medicaid and chose to slice and dice health care coverage for our most vulnerable residents. The poorest residents could be on BadgerCare in Walker’s Wisconsin, but those just above the federal poverty line would have to purchase private insurance on the insurance exchanges.

Walker moved about 63,000 from BadgerCare and into the arms of the private insurance companies—with taxpayer subsidies, of course.

He’s crowed about how his version of reform doesn’t result in a coverage gap—meaning, everyone has access to affordable health insurance.

But anyone with a brain could have predicted that not everyone would be covered. If you are making just above the poverty level, you are probably not going to buy insurance if you don’t have a serious health issue. Rather, you will gamble that you won’t get sick in the coming months and conserve your money for other things, like food and rent. (Trust me on this one—I know from personal experience.)

A few weeks ago, the state Department of Health Services told me that they wouldn’t be able to estimate how many people who’d been kicked off of BadgerCare for being too wealthy had purchased insurance on the exchanges. 

Now we know—or we think we do. And the newly released data confirm what everyone with a brain had predicted.

Figures released by the state show that roughly 38,000 who’d been kicked off of BadgerCare hadn’t been transitioned into the private insurance exchanges—about 60% of the 63,000 who lost their BadgerCare coverage. And they won’t be able to purchase insurance on the exchanges for the rest of 2014.

The Journal Sentinel, not surprisingly, put a rosy glow on the numbers. 

But Walker’s critics—and they seem to be growing by the day—aren’t happy with how he’s mishandled this whole situation.

Here’s U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s statement on Walker’s latest failure:

New Report from Walker Administration Reveals that Governor’s Plan Results in a Gap in Coverage and People Becoming Uninsured

Senator Baldwin: “For 38,000 Wisconsinites, Governor Walker did not keep his promise.”

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin released the following statement today after the Walker Administration made public a report that showed that Governor Walker’s plan to remove almost 63,000 Wisconsinites from BadgerCare coverage and transition them to plans in the Affordable Care Act’s Marketplace has resulted in a gap in coverage and people becoming uninsured.

The numbers released by the Walker Administration today, as reported by the Associated Press, indicate that of the nearly 63,000 people who were kicked off of their BadgerCare coverage by Governor Walker, as many as 38,000 were not transitioned to the Affordable Care Act Marketplace by the Walker Administration. About 60 percent of the vulnerable Wisconsinites kicked off of BadgerCare remain unaccounted for, despite the Governor’s promise. 

According to the State Legislative Fiscal Bureau, Walker’s plan costs Wisconsin taxpayers $119 million more and covers 85,000 less individuals than if he had accepted the federal investment in BadgerCare through the Affordable Care Act.

“Wisconsin continues to pay a price for Governor Walker's insistence on putting politics ahead of progress.  Not only has Walker pursued a fiscally irresponsible plan which covers fewer people at a higher cost to taxpayers, now they have been forced to reveal that his plan has resulted in a gap in coverage and people becoming uninsured. The fact is, the Walker plan kicked nearly 63,000 people in Wisconsin off of their BadgerCare coverage and promised to transition them to the Marketplace. For 38,000 Wisconsinites, Walker did not keep that promise.”

 

Walker thought that playing politics with people's health care would help him raise his profile as he tries to reach the White House. Sadly, his misguided policies are having a damaging impact on our state's struggling families.

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