HealthWatch Public Hearings: The Human Impact of Medicaid/BadgerCare Cuts in Wisconsin
HealthWatch Wisconsin has posted the complete video footage of public testimony on the impact of proposed BadgerCare+ and Medicaid cuts that will affect 1.2 million Wisconsinites covered by these programs. In March, HealthWatch Wisconsin sponsored two days of public hearings during the HealthWatch Wisconsin Annual Conference, drawing hundreds of people to listen, learn, and for some, to share their stories and the stories of loved ones. HealthWatch Wisconsin staff was on hand to record participants' testimony.
View the public testimony footage online.
Jon Peacock, Wisconsin Council on Children and Families
By Katie Foran-McHale
Jon Peacock serves as the Research Director for the Wisconsin Council on Children & Families. The WCCF focuses on an intersection of health and fiscal policy, providing timely, credible and reliable analysis. “We work on providing information that reporters and policymakers will be able to trust,” he said. Jon keeps track of state legislation, approaching analysis from the perspective of how the issues affect low-income families. “We don’t have all the answers, but we potentially have more knowledge about the state’s fiscal challenges and opportunities, and we try to share that with other advocates and nonprofits to enable them to do their legislative advocacy more effectively,” he said.
Like many health care advocates, Jon is concerned about threats to Medicaid programs that were passed in the state budget July 1. These threats include significantly increasing premiums that may lead families to drop out of the program; changing crowd-out policies that will disallow enrollment if an applicant has any access to private insurance, regardless of whether he or she can afford it; more frequent reviews and verifications for eligibility; and a reduction of eligibility for adults to 133% FPL, which cuts 63,000 people from receiving Medicaid.
“Policymakers are placing a much lower priority than we do on protecting programs for low-income families,” he said. “It’s a very challenging time to be convincing policymakers that we need to maintain Wisconsin’s long tradition of serving disadvantaged families.”
Jon thinks balancing the budget shouldn’t come exclusively from cuts—that the legislature could use different combinations of approaches, including taxing the rich. “We need reforms that make the system more efficient, not ones that shift costs and leave more people uninsured,” he said.
Having been a HWW member since its inception and a member of the HWW Council for three years, Jon joined for the potential of expertise from a broad range of providers, advocates and others in the health care system who see what’s going on in the front lines. He is also collaborating with HWW to document detailed stories of families whose lives are greatly affected by BadgerCare or a lack of insurance.
“Story banking puts a human face on the more abstract arguments that we make,” he said. “For instance, a lot of legislators who have government insurance and comfortable incomes have no idea how difficult it is for low income families to come up with what may sound like a modest amount for premiums.“
He also wants to work with HWW to help identify barriers to enrolling, renewing and accessing health services that people need.
In today’s climate, Jon thinks the public realizes that although the state government said they could reduce spending without harming important public services, this isn’t the case. “I’m very frustrated that the state appears to be moving backwards and reversing the progress that we’ve made in improving access to coverage, but I’m also guardedly optimistic that most of the public is still on our side,” he said. “We can win on these issues if we can get everything onto the table, if we can avoid the budget decisions being made in a way in which caps are put on spending and boxes are created that tie the hands of policymakers…Conservative lawmakers want to change the rules of the game and make it impossible to balance spending and taxes at the same time.”