At a media event Thursday outside the Wisconsin Commissioner of Insurance Town Hall in Green Bay, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, State Senator Dave Hansen, State Representative Eric Genrich and others denounced the Walker Administration’s attempt to mislead the public with unverifiable health insurance figures claiming rates would be higher in the new health insurance marketplace (or exchange) created by the Affordable Care Act. Citizens called on the Walker Administration to release the full data to public scrutiny instead of confusing consumers.
Even if the data is taken at face value, it is clear that OCI leaves out vital factors which will have a major impact on the true sticker price of health insurance. At issue is the secretive manner in which the Walker Administration released information. Instead of releasing the rates insurers participating in the new marketplace submitted to the administration in early August, the Insurance Commissioner released vague and incomplete comparisons to current plans. The Administration failed to include in their analysis the impact of tax credits that will greatly reduce cost for many consumers, does not factor in the improved quality of the new plans, and fails to account for pre-existing condition protections and other factors that would reduce cost for many consumers.
A recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that nearly half of consumers on the new health insurance marketplaces will receive tax credits which will on average a reduce the sticker price of a family plan at the silver level by 32% (or $2,672). The subsidies would reduce the cost of a bronze plan by 77%.
"Conservatives are doing everything in their power to stop health reform," said State Senator Dave Hansen. "Whether it's scaring people about 'death panels', threatening to shut down the government or confusing the rates, they are putting insurance profits over lives and good health of consumers."
“The Walker Administration had a clear opportunity to inform consumers in a transparent and open way on what to expect on the new health marketplace, but instead we have unverifiable numbers meant to scare the public,” said Kevin Kane, Healthcare Organizer at Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “If the rates truly are as bad as claimed, then they should have no objection to releasing the full data to public scrutiny. We need real apples to apples comparisons.”
"This is yet another example of Governor Walker putting presidential politics above the people of this state," said State Representative Eric Genrich. "His and his administration's continued attempts to delay and distort the release of information related to the Affordable Care Act implementation demonstrate his inability to put political differences aside in what should be a bipartisan effort to educate Wisconsinites about the much-needed injection of fairness and competition into the health insurance marketplace."