Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Walker Administration Questions Medicaid Expansion: An Analysis by HealthWatch Wisconsin

In the last issue of the HealthWatch Update newsletter, we looked at Supreme Court's historic decision to uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. However, the Court's opinion left the door open for states to refuse to implement Medicaid expansion provision of health reform. In Wisconsin, the Walker Administration and Department of Health Services (DHS) have made it clear they intend to resist the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, a decision which may cost the state in the long run. Without the Medicaid expansion, tens of thousands of individuals, not eligible for coverage subsidies through insurance exchanges, will be completely uninsured. Moreover, thousands of people in Wisconsin could lose access to valuable coverage, and that affects everyone in our state.
Even worse, treatment delays by the uninsured may result in uncompensated emergency room expenses that cost thousands of dollars. Instead of using primary and preventive care available with BadgerCare, the uninsured will have few options but the emergency room. We know that uncompensated care spreads additional costs to the rest of us in the form of higher premiums, co-payments and deductibles. Remember the story we shared from the Kaiser Foundation about the $18 baby aspirin? So instead of billions in Medicaid dollars flowing into hospitals and clinics across Wisconsin, our uncompensated care rates and health care costs will spiral. Wisconsin providers already absorb over $1 billion annually in uncompensated care. And yes, sadly, people will not get the primary care and preventive care services they need and deserve.
Last week, Governor Walker submitted a partisan op-ed to the Washington Post indicating that the Affordable Care Act "will devastate Wisconsin." Using out-of-context statistics from the Gruber Report, a 2011 actuarial study which ultimately concludes that Health Reform has an overwhelmingly positive impact on Wisconsin, Walker makes Wisconsin out to be the victims of an economic assault by the federal government.
The Gruber Report made headlines last August, when DHS Secretary Dennis Smith held a closed door press conference and gave a presentation using the report as a pretext to make it seem as though the Affordable Care Act would harm Wisconsin's private health insurance market and working families.
CLICK HERE for more analysis on the interpretation of the Gruber Report!

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