Bill Kaplan: GOP health care time bomb

Bill Kaplan: GOP health care time bomb

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been a huge success. 11.4 million, including 205,118 Wisconsinites, have gained private insurance coverage. Most receive federal financial assistance to pay insurance premiums and reduce out-of-pocket costs. Another 12 million now have health coverage through Medicaid expansion. But none in Wisconsin because of GOP intransigence. Moreover, the ACA provides strong consumer protections for 52 million, including 852,000 Wisconsinites, from being denied health coverage or charged higher rates for preexisting conditions. Finally, without the ACA, uncompensated health care would increase by $50.2 billion, including $412 million in Wisconsin (Urban Institute).

Nonetheless, Trump and the GOP continue to try to roll back the ACA with a sabotage campaign: deep cuts in ACA advertising and outreach; a much shorter enrollment period; elimination of federal payment of out-of-pocket health costs; allowing the sale of useless bare-bones insurance; and eliminating the tax penalty (individual mandate) for not having health coverage. However, it gets worse.

Two defeated run-of-the-mill Wisconsin GOP politicians, former Governor Scott Walker and Attorney General Brad Schimel, orchestrated a federal lawsuit to have the ACA declared unconstitutional. A ticking health care time bomb. After they lost reelection, a federal Texas judge struck down the ACA in December 2018. The Trump administration had declined to defend the ACA, while calling for the court to eliminate all ACA protections for preexisting health conditions.

Suddenly, in March 2019, the Trump administration called on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to declare the entire ACA unconstitutional. The American Hospital Association said: “The position is unprecedented and unsupported by the law or the facts. Millions of Americans would lose the coverage they have relied on for years. … Medicaid expansion would be reversed and protections for people with chronic and preexisting conditions would cease to exist.” Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin said: “Here is the Republicans’ plan for your health care: … Trump and Attorney General Barr are working to win a lawsuit that would repeal health insurance (and consumer protections) for millions … .”

In April 2019, Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers withdrew Wisconsin from the lawsuit. However, Trump and other GOP-led states have continued to support the lawsuit in the federal appeals court, while Democratic-led states and GOP Attorneys General Timothy Fox of Montana and David Yost of Ohio defended the ACA. Fox and Yost said: “Let justice be done, though the heavens may fall. But the District Court’s ruling is wrong, and its errors threaten harm to millions … .” Wisconsin congressional Democrats have denounced the GOP lawsuit, while Wisconsin congressional Republicans have refused to defend the ACA.

Make no mistake: the Trump-GOP lawsuit is a ticking time bomb. Health care-legal expert Timothy Jost said: “There seems to be a real possibility … that the Fifth Circuit may affirm the lower court’s judgment (ACA is unconstitutional). It will then again be up to the Supreme Court to sort things out. … (This) will likely become a major issue in the 2020 election.”

Wisconsin Republicans brought us to this man-made disaster.

–Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C. for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 – 2009.

Bill to accept federal Medicaid money to be introduced today in Wauwatosa

Bill to accept federal Medicaid money to be introduced today in Wauwatosa

Today, August 5th state legislators who support accepting federal Medicaid money to expand BadgerCare will introduce new legislation to save the state money and cover tens of thousands more Wisconsinites with health coverage.

The event is at the Wauwatosa Public Library at 12:15pm. If you want to attend arrive by Noon.

We are encouraging everyone to contact their state legislators and tell them to co-sponsor.  You can call your legislators at: 1-800-362-9472. 

Please share stories about the legislation on social media next week and encourage your family and friends to call their representatives.

Accepting the federal money remains extremely popular with the public and a common sense thing to do. We need to keep pressure on state legislators and will continue to work to make accepting the Medicaid money a reality.

Do you have a healthcare access story?
We want to hear from you. Contact: Claire.Zautke@citizenactiowi.org

Health Care is a Human Right and a Public Good


Our current healthcare system is driven by profit and governed by insurance and pharmaceutical companies, rather than by the people. In calling for Medicare for All we are fighting to shift power away from insurance and drug corporations, move health care resources into the public sphere (and people into public coverage), increase community control, and combat racial, national, and gender exclusion. Fighting for universal health care allows us to put corporate power, commodification, immigrant exclusion, and racial and gender inequity at the center of the debate.

We will know we have won when health care is:

  • In public hands
  • For health, not profit
  • Simple, universal, and available
  • Fully resourced
  • Inclusive and comprehensive (including medicines, medical equipment, vision/dental/hearing care, reproductive care, mental health care, harm reduction and treatment for substance misuse, preventive and long-term care, and homecare)
  • Equitable across race, gender, ability, and region
  • Inclusive of care for the people who care for us

Under Medicare for All:

  • Health care will be financed in a way that benefits us. We all pay into a system that is managed by one entity. Instead of lining the pockets of insurance company executives or funding company advertising, our money goes where it should: toward our health care.
  • We all participate in the decisions that affect our health. Medicare for All takes the power from insurance companies and puts it in our hands and the hands of our democratically elected representatives. Insurance companies would not be allowed to determine how much we pay for health care services and which services we can get.
  • Everyone has access to quality health care. A universal health care system guarantees universal coverage. There are no more financial barriers. This promotes equality and equity in our health care system, meaning everyone has a fair shot at being healthy.
  • We will have freedom of choice in our health care. There will no longer be doctor’s offices that don’t take your insurance. You can choose which doctor you see or which hospital you go to.

Citizen Action members help set agenda for health care

Citizen Action members help set agenda for health care, and show growing grassroots power, making tens of thousands of door knocks and phone calls

Statewide: Years of grassroots organizing by Citizen Action of Wisconsin members across the state helped build healthcare into the dominant issue in the 2018 elections. The election results create a mandate for Governor Evers to pursue Medicaid Expansion, a BadgerCare Public Option, Long Term Care Reform, and meaningful action on runaway prescription drug prices.

Citizen Action of Wisconsin members have been working to inject health care into Wisconsin elections for over a decade, and started campaigning on the dominant wedge issue of pre-existing conditions discrimination in the 2012 election cycle, and every election cycle moving forward.

Citizen Action & Nancy Pelosi Reveal Trump’s Health Care Sabotage

Friday, July 27th

Last Saturday, Citizen Action held a successful news event with U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Milwaukee area healthcare professionals and advocates to fight back against Donald Trump’s escalating sabotage of health coverage. The event featured a number of first-line caregivers and health professionals in addition to Nancy Pelosi. U.S. Representative Gwen Moore was scheduled to appear but was unable to attend due to a personal medical issue.

The event also included the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals, Independence First, and League of Progressive Seniors. Read More