Thursday, May 16, 2019

BadgerCare Expansion Explained

BadgerCare Plus is Wisconsin’s largest Medicaid program. (There are separate, smaller programs for people with disabilities, children in foster care, people over age 65, and other groups.) Children and pregnant women are already eligible for BadgerCare Plus up to 300% of the poverty line. When we talk about BadgerCare Expansion, we are only talking about adults who are not pregnant.

If you want to really dig into the details of how Medicaid currently works in Wisconsin, this publication from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau spells it all out.

How does it work?

All Medicaid programs are paid for by a mix of federal and state tax dollars. When a state expands Medicaid to cover adults up to 138% of the poverty line, the federal government covers 90% of the cost (instead of the usual 59%). So even though an additional 82,000 people get coverage, WI taxpayers save hundreds of millions.

It’s that simple: Expanding BadgerCare covers more people at less cost to WI taxpayers.

People arguing against it are really saying, “Taxpayers should pay more because we want people making $8/hr to pay more for healthcare.” That’s just indefensible.

Bonus Money: Expanding BadgerCare also makes WI eligible for an additional $1.6 Billion in federal funding for statewide health initiatives and local clinics and hospitals. That’s the real reason Republicans pulled it from the budget. Losing out on that money sabotages Governor Evers’ entire budget.

In Barron County: WI Dept of Health Services estimates that over 740 people in Barron County would be newly eligible for healthcare under expansion. And about $18 Million of that “bonus money” would be invested into our communities and clinics.

Call your legislators and tell them to
put BadgerCare Expansion back in the Budget!

Rep Quinn: 608-266-2519
Others: 608-266-9960 or 800-362-9472
Write letters to the editor too!

Republican Objections to BadgerCare Expansion:

Always remember the real reason Republicans oppose expansion is that they want to sabotage Tony Evers’ budget and create partisan gridlock.

"We can’t trust that the federal money will always be there."

  • Yes, we can. For the federal share to drop below 90%, a bill would have to pass both houses of Congress and be signed into law. There’s no way such a bill would pass the current Democratic House.
  • Even if Republicans controlled all levers of power, passing such a bill would be politically catastrophic for them. It would instantly blow up 37 separate state budgets, including many “red states.” Note that Republicans did not do this when they had the chance from 2017-18.
  • The last 2 Walker budgets included over $42 Billion in federal funds supporting just about every government function you can think of. If all that federal money was OK, why is this federal money any different?

"People over 100% of poverty are already eligible for coverage."

  • Yes, they are. But they can’t afford it. Republicans love to say we’re “lying” about covering an additional 82,000 people because about 40,000 of them already buy insurance on the marketplace. But there’s a reason why the other half of them are uninsured.
  • Imagine you make $8 or $9/hr. You get up and go to work every day and carefully managed your budget to be able to pay a $50/month premium and your $1,000 deductible. (More likely, you chose a $0 premium with a $6,000 deductible). Then you have an unexpected car repair. You miss your premium, and you’re uninsured.

"Expanding BadgerCare will increase costs for people on private insurance."

  • No, it won’t. The “study” Republicans are trotting out has been debunked by multiple economists because its dataset ends in 2014 (before expansion was even an option) and it ignores other factors that influence healthcare cost.
  • Other, more reputable studies have shown Medicaid Expansion actually lowers private healthcare costs by 7-11%.
  • If 40,000 people under 138% of poverty buy coverage on, that means there are 42,000 with no coverage at all.
    • People with no coverage getting uncompensated care in emergency rooms absolutely drives up costs for everybody else. And the 40,000 with coverage are all at risk of becoming uninsured if they have a bad month, or they’re delaying needed care and checkups because they have a deductible they can’t afford.
  • An alternate version of this argument is that BadgerCare pays providers less than private insurance, so providers will shift that difference onto other patients.
    • You know what’s even worse for providers? People with no insurance at all.
    • Let’s just raise the BadgerCare reimbursement rate! Put a bill on the floor and Democrats would support it.