Walker Administration Deliberately Rigging Health Insurance System to Raise Rates

Almost as many people enrolled in substandard “lemon” health plans in Wisconsin as buy individual coverage through Healthcare.gov

Statewide: When Walker Administration’s Deputy Insurance Commissioner J.P. Wieske testified before Senator Ron Johnson’s Homeland Security Committee last week, he revealed that a much larger number of Wisconsinites than previously believed are enrolled in substandard health plans which do not meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

This seemingly innocuous admission actually has major implications for the availability of affordable health care in Wisconsin. In fact, it is evidence that the Walker Administration is working to sabotage the health care law.

In the hearing Wieske testified (p. 6-7) that 203,000 Wisconsinites are covered by so-called “transitional plans,” the technical term for most plans not in compliance with the ACA. These are also often referred to as “grandmothered” plans. Currently 239,034 Wisconsin health consumers are enrolled in individual coverage on Healthcare.gov. This means the ACA marketplaces in Wisconsin would be much larger if these transitional plans were prohibited.

Read more

Outsourced Wisconsin Tour Visits Fox Valley & Wausau

Tour traveling Wisconsin to focus attention on corporate outsourcers who are taking public job creation dollars

Neenah & Wausau, WI: Advocates for good jobs continued their statewide tour of corporations which are outsourcing while taking public job creation dollars today in Northeast and Northcentral Wisconsin. Over 11,000 Wisconsin jobs have been outsourced over the last 5 years.

The first stop on the “Outsourced Wisconsin” tour today was the Plexus Corporation in Neenah. Plexus has been paid or promised $17 million by the Walker Administration's troubled jobs agency, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). Plexus has created 74 jobs to date, but outsourced 116 jobs. This means Plexus has outsourced 42 more jobs than the public has paid it to create. Citizen Action members were joined at the Neenah event by State Rep. Amanda Stuck and Fox Valley Labor Council President Mark Westphal. (More information on the Plexus outsourcing record here)

The second stop on the “Outsourced Wisconsin” tour today was Kohl’s retail store location in Wausau. Kohl’s has been awarded $62.5 million in job creation tax credits by WEDC, but outsourced 67 accounts payable and sales audit jobs to India. Citizen Action was joined by local economic justice activists and Nancy Stencil, candidate for the 86th Assembly district. (More information on the Kohl’s outsourcing record here).

Read more

Attorney General Moves to Block Pay Raise for Wisconsin Workers

New overtime rule would be an economic boon for Wisconsin

Statewide – Wisconsin has joined a group of states suing the U.S. Department of Labor over revised overtime rules that will raise wages for millions of workers. The rule is slated to take effect December 1. If the lawsuit is successful, workers across Wisconsin would be denied a much needed pay raise at the start of the holiday season.

The candidates in the Wisconsin U.S. Senate races also strongly disagree on the overtime rule, with Russ Feingold supporting it and Senator Ron Johnson opposing it.

If enacted, workers in every region of Wisconsin will be be rewarded for their hard work. When workers have more money in their pockets to spend in local communities, employment increases and prosperity expands. The economic impact of the overtime rule will be dramatic in every metro area of Wisconsin.

Table: Overtime bonus per average worker from new federal rule by metropolitan area

Metropolitan Area

Median Annual Wage, 2015 1

Average Weekly Overtime bonus, 47 hours 2

Average Annual Overtime Bonus, 47 hours/week 2

Milwaukee/

Waukesha

$37,190

+$188 per week

+$9,776 per year

Appleton

$34,965

+$177

+$9,204

Green Bay

$35,090

+$177

+$9,204

Madison

$39,166

+$198

+$10,296

Eau Claire

$33,613

+$170

+$8,840

Racine

$33,550

+$169

+$8,788

Wausau

$33,883

+$171

+$8,892

Fond Du Lac

$34,778

+$176

+$9,152

Superior/Duluth

$34,008

+$172

+$8,944

La Crosse

$33,384

+$169

+$8,788

Sheboygan

$35,506

+$179

+$9,308

Janesville

$32,302

+$163

+$9,308

Oshkosh

$35,797

+$181

+$9,412

 

Read more

Ron Johnson Senate Hearing Today will Showcase Sabotage of Affordable Health Care


Witnesses include Walker Administration insurance bureaucrat who is part of efforts to undermine access to affordable health care in Wisconsin

Washington DC: This morning Senator Ron Johnson, Chair of the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee, will hold a hearing on the state of health insurance markets. Observers of health policy expect the hearing to try and build support for repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Senator Johnson, an arch opponent of guaranteed affordable health care, is expected to use the hearing to advance his desire to return to the days when insurance companies profited through discrimination based on preexisting conditions, age, and gender. Johnson will likely claim that big for profit insurance companies pulling out of ACA marketplaces is a reason to repeal health care reform, rather than for holding those highly profitable corporations accountable. At least one health insurance company is pulling out in retaliation for the Obama Administration enforcement of the nation’s antitrust laws.

One of the challenges in implementing the ACA continues to be conservative state officials who are willing to use their power to undermine access to affordable health care for their own constituents. These actions include rejecting coverage for low income residents and enabling for profit insurance companies to continue to profit by selling policies to healthy people and avoiding those with health conditions.

Read more

Outsourced Wisconsin Tour Launched

Will travel Wisconsin to focus attention on corporate outsourcers who are taking public job creation dollars

Milwaukee: Following last week’s revelation that over 11,000 Wisconsin jobs have been outsourced in the past five years, advocates for good jobs launched a statewide tour on Thursday of corporations who are outsourcing while taking public job creation dollars.

The first stop on the tour is the Rexnord Corporation in Milwaukee. At a news event today community leaders detailed how Rexnord outsourced Wisconsin jobs at the same time it took millions in public job creation dollars from Governor Walker’s scandal plagued Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).

Community leaders and advocates for good jobs wore hard hats emblazoned with a decal which plays off WEDC’s “In Wisconsin” logo changed to “Outsourced Wisconsin.” Speakers included AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Stephanie Bloomingdale, WISDOM President Rev. Willie Brisco, former radio host Earl Ingram, and State. Rep. Daniel Riemer.

WEDC has for years refused to close loopholes that allow corporations to take public jobs money while outsourcing more jobs than they create.

Read more

Wisconsin Manufacturing Wages Declining


But Magnitude of the Decline Varies by Wisconsin Metro Area

Statewide: Leading into Labor Day 2016, Citizen Action of Wisconsin released data today which shows dramatically declining wages for Wisconsin manufacturing workers in every metro area.

Citizen Action was joined on a media call this morning by State Senator Dave Hansen, WI AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Stephanie Bloomingdale, State Representative LaTanya Johnson, and State Representative Evan Goyke. (audio recording here).

Earlier this week, Citizen Action of Wisconsin showed that the outsourcing Wisconsin jobs is continuing at an alarming rate.

Another impact of rigged global trade and state economic development programs shown dramatically in the data released today is shrinking wages for jobs that remain in Wisconsin. 

Read more

Wisconsin State Legislature Part of Scheme to Help Drug Corporation Price Gouge for EpiPen

Mylan spent thousands on political contributions, tens of thousands on lobbying to use Wisconsin school and recreation programs to expand market for EpiPens

Statewide: Prescription drug corporation Mylan, the seller of EpiPen and the source of escalating controversy nationally and in Wisconsin for price gouging for a medication that can make a life and death difference for people suffering from an allergic reaction, has given thousands in political contributions to GOP State Legislators in Wisconsin and spent tens of thousands on lobbying to influence the Legislature to help it increase its market in Wisconsin. The Legislation is helping Mylan build the monopoly it needs to overcharge for the medication.

Since 2014, Mylan’s corporate PAC has made thousands of dollars in contributions in Wisconsin exclusively to Republican state legislators, focusing on those who serve on the Senate Health Committee, according to data compiled by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

Mylan also spent $42,000 between 2013-2014, and $24,500 between 2015-2016 lobbying in Wisconsin on issues “...affecting the manufacture, distribution, or sale of prescription drugs and medical devices” as well as on what became 2013 Wisconsin Act 239 and 2015 Wisconsin Act 35 and broadly on “anything relating to generic pharmaceuticals.”

Read more

At Least 11,331 Wisconsin Jobs Outsourced Overseas Over the Last Five Years

Reveals Economic Wreckage Caused by Outsourcing During Walker and Johnson Years

Statewide: According to federal data, the large scale outsourcing of Wisconsin jobs has continued at a rapid rate since Governor Scott Walker and U.S. Senator Ron Johnson took office. Despite the ongoing damage being done to economic opportunity across the state, Governor Walker and Senator Johnson have aided and abetted multinational corporations in selling out Wisconsin workers for short term profits.

Data kept by the U.S. Department of Labor shows that at least 11,331 Wisconsin workers have had their jobs outsourced to other countries since Governor Walker’s scandal ridden jobs agency, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), was launched July 1, 2011. This is a very low end estimate of the impact of outsourcing in Wisconsin because it only accounts for groups of workers who successfully applied for Trade Adjustment Assistance from the federal government by proving their jobs were eliminated because of global trade agreements. It does not account for outsourcing to other states, or downsizing where it is not possible to prove the jobs landed in a foreign country or were impacted by global trade deals.

Both Governor Scott Walker and U.S. Senator Ron Johnson have consistently supported a rigged economic system which allows multinational corporations to pit Wisconsin workers against low-wage foreign workers.

Read more

Walker Economic Plan for Milwaukee Offers Nothing Up to Scale of the Problem

For Immediate Release - August 26, 2016

Contact(s): Robert Kraig (414) 322-5324 robert.kraig@citizenactionwi.org
Kevin Kane (414) 550-8280 kevin.kane@citizenactionwi.org

Milwaukee: Governor Walker unveiled his economic plan for Sherman Park and other depressed areas of Milwaukee today near the site of civil unrest two weeks ago.

Citizen Action of Wisconsin and our community allies are calling for major investments in Sherman Park and other economically distressed neighborhoods at the scale necessary to dramatically increase opportunity and reduce racial disparities in income and employment.

Read more

Community Speaks Out on Misrepresentation of Jobs Impact in Sherman Park

Communities in economic distress need job creation strategies at the scale of the problem

Milwaukee: At a news event in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park Neighborhood today elected officials and community leaders spoke out about revelations that the jobs agency created by Governor Walker, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), misrepresented its impact on jobs in the area.

Read more