Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Please Read This

To: Members of the Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee
From: The Save BadgerCare Coalition
Re: Protect BadgerCare & Maintain Eligibility, Benefits and Affordability in Budget Process

On behalf of the over 2,000 supporters and members of the Save BadgerCare Coalition, we are contacting you today to ask that you help protect our state’s valuable and cost saving BadgerCare and Medicaid programs.
Under Republican and Democratic governors, BadgerCare has delivered the care Wisconsin families need at a price they can afford. Now, during the worst economy in generations, the health care and economic stability BadgerCare delivers is even more important.
We believe that reducing BadgerCare eligibility or benefits—or increasing co-pays which have the effect of reducing eligibility or benefits—is the wrong way to decrease program costs. If eligibility or benefits are reduced or new enrollment barriers are imposed, thousands of Wisconsin residents will lose all health insurance coverage and face severe difficulties in getting the preventive, primary or urgent health care they need.
The 2,000 individuals who stand with the Save BadgerCare Coalition and our state legislative leaders have a common goal – to limit the number of uninsured in Wisconsin and to avoid cost-shifting. As proposed by Governor Walker, cutting $500 million from Medicaid will result in people not being able to enroll in and maintain coverage, and thus joining the ranks of the uninsured. This can lead to unfavorable outcomes for providers who might face a loss of revenue due to more uncompensated care as beneficiaries lose coverage, increased use of the emergency room, and adverse selection.
We as a coalition recognize the cost of health care and are committed to working with Department of Health Services to eliminate inefficiencies and creatively generate revenue through real reform of Medical Assistance.
To protect and maintain the integrity of the BadgerCare Program, we ask you to support the following measures:
a) Maintain the current eligibility & benefits for BadgerCare
b) For the base re-estimate for Medicaid, use realistic & conservative estimates as outlined in LFB Paper 340 Alternatives 1 and 2 (page 7)
c) Restore funding for Medicaid by rejecting the funding reductions associated with the administration’s unspecified program changes as outlined in LFB Paper 341 Alternative 3.
d) Maintain legislative authority over Medicaid and BadgerCare Plus policymaking by, at a minimum, approving Alternatives 2a and 2b in LFB Paper 341.
Please choose to invest in the health of our communities and the health of our economy and work to protect the eligibility, benefits and affordability of BadgerCare and Medicaid in our state. We can find responsible ways to balance the state’s budget while protecting the health of Wisconsin families.Protect BadgerCare Eligibility, Benefits & Affordability

BadgerCare is Wisconsin’s award-winning Medicaid program that provides health care coverage for more than 775,000 men and women—and their children—from across the state. Established in 1997 as a bipartisan effort to encourage work and improve health care in Wisconsin, BadgerCare has proven to be a highly effective—and cost-effective—program, successful in both rural and urban communities, in good economies and bad.
As proposed by Governor Walker, to cut $500 million from Medicaid the following consequences could occur:
Increased premiums and cost-sharing -- Consequence: Higher premiums make it more difficult for low-income people to enroll and maintain coverage. Urban Institute researchers showed that even a small premium (1% of a family’s income) decreased enrollment by 16% when studying three states that changed premiums. Premiums of 3% of a family’s income estimated to reduce enrollment by as much as half.
Tighten eligibility by encouraging workers to take more expensive private insurance if offered -- Consequence: Often private health insurance plans offered to low-wage workers price-out participation. This leaves more people uninsured. Moreover, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that anti-crowd out measures (the idea that expanded public programs crowd-out the role of private health insurance coverage) do not appear to be an effective way to increase private coverage.
Reduced income eligibility for parents and childless adults to 133% FPL. (This option will be executed if Wisconsin fails to receive maintenance of effort waiver from the federal government.) -- Consequence: Coverage would be dropped for 63,000 parents and approximately 7,000 childless-adults, increasing the numbers of uninsured. For example, parents in a family of three or four, both working minimum wage jobs would be disqualified from BadgerCare.
Eliminating presumptive eligibility for children and/or pregnant women. -- Consequence: This could prevent some women from getting cost-effective prenatal care early in their pregnancy and interrupt the continuity of care.

BadgerCare Makes Good Economic Sense & is Cost-Effective

 BadgerCare is cost effective for state taxpayers and is an excellent investment of public resources.
 BadgerCare brings hundreds of millions of dollars of federal money into the state’s economy.
 BadgerCare saves vast sums of money in the long run by reducing the need for more expensive services down the road as medical conditions worsen or as people are forced to seek treatment in ERs.
 Tough economic times are precisely when we should be investing in cost-effective programs that help people weather the storm.
 Workers need access to health care in order to maintain steady employment–and employers need healthy employees who are able to work.
BadgerCare Provides Essential Coverage & Access
 Most people get health insurance through their employer, but employer-sponsored coverage isn’t available to everybody.
 BadgerCare was created to fill that gap at a time of high unemployment; the need has never been greater.
BadgerCare Supports Working Families
 People need to be healthy to work. Sick mothers and fathers cannot easily compete for jobs, stay employed and contribute to the household.
 BadgerCare is about protecting families, making sure that mom and dad have the health care they need to work and support their families.

Stories from Real Wisconsin Families: Why BadgerCare is Important to Them! BadgerCare is Important to Them!

Please do not cut eligibility, benefits, or funding. I have never myself benefited from these programs, and I am a self-employed small business owner. However, I strongly support keeping these programs for the neediest among us; I believe that these programs have an indirect effect of strengthening our communities by keeping people healthy. Also, even just from a selfish point of view, I believe keeping this kind of basic care is cheaper than the alternatives. It is cheaper to provide at-home services for a disabled child than to have that child institutionalized. It is cheaper to provide some simple preventive health measures than to pay for the emergency room costs when that person ends up there in crisis. I would rather pay for preventive medicine with my tax dollars than to help pay someone's ER bill. - Kimberly, Watertown
I want to let you know that BadgerCare has saved my life. I teach part-time at Madison Area Technical College. However, with all of the training and additional paper work as an English Instructor, it is not a part time job. Yet, I am not offered health insurance and I do not make enough money as a part time teacher to afford health insurance other than BadgerCare. I had not been in for a mammogram in three years. In Dec. of 2009 I was diagnosed with two different types of breast cancer. I had a bilateral mastectomy in February, followed by two months of chemotherapy. I am so thankful for this program because it allows me to maintain my dignity and to receive the quality health care that I deserve. Please save BadgerCare and protect Medicaid. Thank you for your consideration. - Jamie, Madison
I am a 54 year old woman that has been fortunate enough to receive BadgerCare for a very bad year in my life. Last year in January I developed pneumonia and then in February I slid on the ice 2 days after I found out the pneumonia was out of my lungs. From the ice fall I ruptured my hamstring and broke my tail bone. In April I slid again (in the tub while still on crutches) and received more internal injuries. At this time I am still in a lot of pain and healing and being worked on for these injuries. I have not worked or had any income for the last year. I need this health care to get to where I can work again. Without the BadgerCare I don't know what I would have done to pay the bills for my illnesses and injuries in the past year. I know I am not as bad off as some of the people that are worse off than me. What are these people going do? – Patricia, Milwaukee
I am one of the invisible, forgotten Wisconsinites who would have been eligible for Badgercare, now having been without a health insurance plan for over 12 months, and being too young for Medicare. I would have been placed on the waiting list. My entire life I worked as a machinist and mechanical designer, in between periods of layoffs and plant closures that is. Not surprisingly, I have not saved enough money to pay out $750-1000 monthly for a private health insurance plan that would have a deductible that would not clean out my bank account were I to have a medical event. – Bobby, Stevens Point
I am a mother of two young children and a nursing student, trying to make a better life for my children. Without BadgerCare, I never would have been able to go back to school to become a Registered Nurse, and I would have been stuck at a low paying job just to make sure my family had access to health care.! Please don't change eligibility and take away access to health care that thousands of people rely on! – Darcy, Pleasant Prairie
As parents of 3 boys, and small business owners in the state of Wisconsin we depend on BadgerCare to help take care of our family. Without this my husband who is a type II diabetic would go without his medication. My youngest who has ADHD, club foot, and speech & physical disabilities would also go without the medication and treatment he requires to thrive. My middle son with allergies, asthma, and skin problems would also be without the medications he needs. My oldest who at 17 has decided to serve in our armed forces will be fine, but he should not have to worry about that at 17. For myself I need the care as well. I am struggling to be a healthy person to take care of myself so that I can continue to take care of my family. I will be 36 this year, the same age that my mother was when she had her first heart attack. Because she was without health care for so long, she almost died at this age. Help me be there for my kids, do not let me be the one of my siblings to follow in her footsteps. I am doing what it takes to make the right choices for my family. – Denice, Hayward
I am a Verona, WI resident with a husband and 2 beautiful children. About a year ago, my husband was not working for about 6 months. BadgerCare, quite frankly, saved us. We were able to keep our house, which we would not have been able to do had we had to pay private insurance premiums that were simply unaffordable when we were down to one income. Additionally, my youngest son, we discovered, had a speech delay due to hearing loss in his ears because of fluid. He required surgery to have tubes placed in his ears so that he could hear in order to learn to speak. This was able to happen, thanks to BadgerCare. My oldest son has asthma. Without the necessary inhalers that he needs only occasionally, we would have made many expensive trips to the emergency room in order to access these necessary medications. Please save BadgerCare, and protect families by protecting the current income eligibility limits. This is how to make a REAL difference in working families' lives. – Amy, Verona
My family and I are fortunate to receive benefits through my husband's employment. Unfortunately, I have friends that are not as fortunate. One has Type 1 diabetes and relies on BadgerCare for the assistance with her insulin and other items needed. She is struggling to make ends meet now and to take this away would be devastating. She cannot be the only one in this situation. Please keep BadgerCare and Medicaid in place. – Becky, Stoughton
I am one of many Wisconsin residents who has had substantial financial problems in the past year. I lost my job at the University and still have not gotten back on my feet with a new job. When my health insurance ended, I could not afford a COBRA policy and am on BadgerCare with my two sons. We really need this help during our time of need so that we can move our lives back to where we want to be, working to make Wisconsin strong. Please don't de-fund Badger care or take it away from people who need it. – Jolien, Madison
My husband and I are hard-working people who have contributed to the community and been taxpayers for over 40 years. Recently my husband lost his job and my self-employment income is not enough to pay for health insurance. Thank God (and the State of Wisconsin) for BadgerCare. Without it, we would have no health insurance for ourselves and our 17 year-old son with autism. Please consider your vote on Badger Care deeply. There are many people who have found themselves in trying circumstances and desperately need BadgerCare. -Cheryl, Green Bay
Victims of domestic violence and sexual assault often seek medical services because of their injuries. If BadgerCare was to change or disappear all together, women and children would not seek medical attention, individuals would not receive the intervention and protection along with treatment they deserve. Victims often once a disclosure is made aids law enforcement and prosecution to aid in restitution for repayment of medical costs. The ripple effect of this bill would be devastating to families, individuals, victims and all citizens of WI.–Patricia, Black River Falls
I support BadgerCare because I had to rely on BadgerCare for my family because my employer did not offer ANY health insurance. Without the BadgerCare my husband would not have found out that he is diabetic and has Addisons Disease. There has been and still is the possibility that he would have/could die from either of these 2 MEDICAL conditions. He now has MEDICAID to help him to stay alive with the needed medications. That is my main reason to support the Medicare/BadgerCare program. – Ramona, Milwaukee
My family has been very blessed to participate in this program. When my husband lost his well-paying job with an excellent insurance program, BadgerCare really was there for us. Since then my husband has been able to establish another job, but not making the same kind of hourly wage he used to and so BadgerCare still is providing the means for our family to receive good medical care that we need. Without this valuable program our family would be at a loss as to how to pay the medical bills that we would incur. -Angela, Fond du Lac
As a local pediatrician, I believe it is an absolute tragedy to cut funding to BadgerCare. 95% of my patients in clinic rely on BadgerCare for the basic medical attention they receive. Without BadgerCare, they would not have access to well child visits, vaccinations or care when they are ill. This would be completely unacceptable. The percentage of the budget that is spent on BadgerCare is miniscule compared to the long-lasting and necessary benefits it provides. Please do not cut BadgerCare, it would set the state and our children unacceptably behind and in danger. - Cathy, Madison
I'm writing today to ask you to listen to the voices of the people of Wisconsin and Save BadgerCare and protect Medicaid benefits in the budget. My nephew and his family are insured under BadgerCare. He does work full-time in Berlin but his wages are so low that it is impossible to support a family of 5 on them. If it wasn't for BadgerCare, he would not have insurance coverage for his children and his wife. Cutting BadgerCare benefits no one! If these people suddenly find themselves with no insurance, they will be forced to wait until they are very ill and then go to the emergency rooms, which cost far more than allowing these hard-working "poor" families to have wellness care. As a taxpayer in Wisconsin, I pay for your health insurance. I implore you to allow these families to have the same care you are given by the taxpayers of Wisconsin. Thank you! - Debra, New Berlin
My daughter and grandchildren are recipients of BadgerCare because they have no other affordable health care options. My son-in-law would have to pay over half of his salary for premiums alone if they lost BadgerCare. Yet I know they cannot be without health insurance, especially for my grandchildren. I am very worried about their health and welfare if they lose access to BadgerCare. Please maintain the current eligibility and benefits for recipients. These programs help millions, and need to be very carefully considered. Also, please keep in mind that taking away healthcare for millions will ultimately result in higher health care costs for everyone. Taking away health care does not seem to be a good solution. We need to consider long term effects. – Carol, Waukesha
I am an advocate for Hope House of South Central Wisconsin located in Baraboo. My agency offers services to Sauk, Juneau, Marquette, Columbia, and Adams Counties. We work with hundreds of women and children. A substantial number of these clients are enrolled in BadgerCare and benefit substantially for the benefits. Without BadgerCare, these clients would not have access to any health care. NONE. It will be devastating for people to lose BadgerCare. It will cost more for the state to rid this program than to sustain it. It is in the best interest of all to continue with the current system.
-Carly, Baraboo
It is with my most sincere heart that I ask you to save BadgerCare. Never in our lives, have my husband and myself taken help from anyone. I was a stay-at-home mom for fourteen years, raising three beautiful boys. My husband worked very hard to allow me to be home with them and we did everything on our own. If you would have asked me two years ago what BadgerCare was or how to get it, I couldn't have told you. On August 21, 2009 my husband lost his job and everything has changed. For the first time in our lives, we are accepting help from the government. This is not a permanent thing though. We are both currently in school and plan to get back on our feet. If we didn't have this help available, we would have lost everything. Our kids are still happy and healthy thanks to the help we receive. I am begging you to please reconsider your vote on the issue of BadgerCare; many people rely on it in this very tough economy. Thank you and God bless you. – Michelle, Marshall

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