U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) blasted Gov. Scott Walker today for announcing a three-month delay in moving more than 70,000 low-income Wisconsinites from state health coverage to the federal insurance exchanges, and continued failure to fully expand BadgerCare for low-income adults.
"Governor Walker should never have rejected federal support for Medicaid expansion in the first place," said Rep. Kind."He had the opportunity to expand BadgerCare in our state and ensure affordable coverage for low-income adults while saving Wisconsin money. Governor Walker's announcement is disingenuous since it was his failure to expand BadgerCare that forced 70,000 Wisconsinites off their current health coverage."
The effects of Gov. Walker's failure to use the tools in health care reform are already surfacing. Last month, Citizen Action of Wisconsin released a report detailing how much more affordable insurance premium will be in Minnesota as compared to those in Wisconsin. Although the two states have similar demographics and comparable medical costs, aggregate Wisconsin premiums are 79% to 99% higher than those in Minnesota.
Gov. Walker's decision to reject federal Medicaid dollars accounts for part of this vast discrepancy between the two states. Another critical difference is the use of "rate review," a new ACA reform that allows states to examine any insurance rate increases of more than 10 percent to ensure that the increase is justified by actual medical costs. The Citizen Action report found that Wisconsin has a "passive" rate review process, while counterparts in Minnesota are proactivelymonitoring rate increases to keep prices in check.
"If our state accepted the BadgerCare help and used the rate review tool likeMinnesota, we would be seeing better rates," concluded Rep. Kind. "Wisconsin can't take much more of Governor Walker's fiscal malpractice. He should instead follow the example of many Republican governors around the country who have expanded Medicaid coverage for low-income individuals."