Wisconsin Could Create a Totally New Health Care Model

(This article first appeared in the Shepherd Express on Oct 27th, 2015)

Beyond Obamacare

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Prescription Drug Coverage Comparison of Individual Healthcare.gov Plans

- Kevin.Kane@citizenactionwi.org

This report seeks to compare what consumers across Wisconsin pay for prescription drugs region to region. The price of drugs tend not to vary much city to city, however what cost consumers actually see depends on the health insurance plans being sold in the region. 

Key Facts

  • Prescription drug deductibles range from $400 to $2,500 depending on the metro.
  • Average out-of-pocket maximums have gone up 7.9% statewide since last year.
  • What consumers pay for one month of the expensive drug “Pomalyst” with the most common insurance plan ranges from $453 in Madison to $5,375 in La Crosse.
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Scott Walker's Huge Presidential Healthcare Mistake

On Tuesday August 18th, Scott Walker's Presidential Campaign is going to release his plan to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act. It is not often you get advanced notice of a major gaffe, but this is one of those times.

The reason is that, of all the places the Walker Campaign could choose to release their healthcare plan, they pick the one state that shows how to properly rein in insurance companies - Wisconsin's western neighbor Minnesota.

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Bold Health Reform 2.0 Ideas Aren't Coming From Conservatives

- Kevin Kane, Lead Organizer

I’m catching up on my readings after a few days off, so I’ll space these out over the next few days. One article sent to me touches on a truism seen at both the state and national level: Conservatives do not have a plan to provide truly afford health coverage for everyone.         

Obamacare Repeal Would Swell The Deficit Even Using GOP's New Math, Budget Office Says

According to a report the CBO released Friday, repealing the Affordable Care Act wouldn't reduce the deficit...would increase the deficit, by at least $137 billion over 10 years and maybe a lot more than that -- with the effects getting bigger over time.


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Obama Brings Good News to BadgerCare, Long Term Care

by Kevin Kane, Lead Organizer

This week the Obama Administration released new rules for the first time since 2002 for the insurance companies that manage Medicaid patients. Medicaid in Wisconsin covers programs from BadgerCare, to FamilyCare, to SeniorCare to long term care. Yet most people don't realize that Medicaid and BadgerCare covered individuals actually have their coverage run by an insurance company.

It makes a lot of the fighting over the last few years in Wisconsin seem pretty silly, should people be covered by private insurers or BadgerCare? Well turns out they both are run by the insurance companies. 

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Cost of Walker and GOP Not Accepting BadgerCare Funds Now At ~$400 Million

By Kevin Kane, Lead Organizer 

New data from Wisconsin’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau compiled by Wisconsin Council of Children and Families’ Jon Peacock shows that the cost of Walker’s refusal to accept the federal funds for BadgerCare has gone up again, now costing the state almost $400 million in the current budget.

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Should Businesses Move Employees to Medicaid?

by Kevin Kane, Lead Organizer

There's an interesting piece in Forbes by Benjamin Geyerhahn on how businesses should look to Medicaid as a way to hold down employee health costs. In some respects this argument gives me pause, but it is a worthy one to hear:

"Your company can take advantage of this program by helping low-income employees enroll in Medicaid, thereby keeping your business’s healthcare costs down."

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To protect Wisconsin from King v. Burwell, Walker should follow Pennsylvania’s lead

The state of Pennsylvania isn’t leaving anything to chance.

Last Friday, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf outlined his plan to protect Pennsylvanians from the potential of losing vital health care subsidies should the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority rule to gut the Affordable Care Act in the King v. Burwell case. The court is expected to issue its final ruling in June 2015.

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Recommended Reading: Public Insurance Advantage

Check out this latest blog post in the Wall Street Journal by Drew Altman, president and CEO of Kaiser Family Foundation, on public insurance coverage's inflation advantage. Check it out.

"...by cumulative growth in per capita spending, Medicare and Medicaid have generally grown more slowly than private insurance and are projected to continue doing so through 2023"

The chart in the blog shows that since 2007 Medicaid and Medicare per capita costs have only risen 6% and 14% respectively, with private insurance rising more than double that at 29%.

"While Medicare and Medicaid are far from perfect, the purchasing power and policy levers available to large public programs appear to give them an edge over our fragmented private insurance system when it comes to controlling spending."

When we talk about the cost of healthcare being too high, it is because we can point to examples of ways to control health inflation. We can point to states that are doing better than others. 

In the meantime, check the story out and let us know what you think.

- Kevin.Kane@CitizenActionWi.org

Walker Administration and Substandard Insurance Plans

As the Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee is in executive session today to decide on, among others, the budget for the Walker Administration's Office of Commissioner of Insurance (OCI), we thought it was appropriate the point out a piece from our research Minnesota vs Wisconsin 2015 Heath Cost Report showing one area where the OCI has influenced the cost of healthcare: their allowing of substandard insurance plans that can't pass muster and aren't normally allowed by the Affordable Care Act.

We will continue to share blog posts on major areas of healthcare, including reducing costs and policy options before us. In the meantime we welcome you to check out our latest report.

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