Tell Gov. Tony Evers we need a BadgerCare Public Option in his next State Budget

Tell Gov. Tony Evers we need a BadgerCare Public Option in his next State Budget

TAKE ACTION! Contact Gov. Tony Evers and tell him to make sure a BadgerCare Public Option is included in his next State Budget.

No matter what we look like, where we live, or what’s in our wallets, we all need good affordable health care. But for too long, we’ve let a powerful divide us to pad their own profits.

The COVID-19 pandemic reveals what has always been true, excluding people from health care is a threat to the entire community. Crippling costs deter the uninsured and everyone who can’t afford massive co-pays, deductibles, and surprise medical bills from seeking testing and treatment, helping the virus spread.

Millions of Americans have lost health care coverage due to job loss during the pandemic, and hundreds of thousands in Wisconsin.

Healthcare is a human right and no one should go bankrupt because they get sick or delay medical treatment because they can’t afford it.

We need to make sure BadgerCare is opened to everyone in Wisconsin as a public option, lowering premiums and eliminating large co-pays and deductibles, so that all of us can get the care we need without going bankrupt or having to wrangle with an insurance company.

New polling completed in late November 2020 by Badger State Research found 78% of Wisconsin voters support “creating a BadgerCare public option that allows people to purchase health care coverage through BadgerCare rather than private insurance.”

CONTACT Gov. Tony Evers and tell him to make sure a BadgerCare Public Option is included in his 2021-2022 State Budget that he will introduce in late January 2021.

Sara Rodriguez will fight price gouging by prescription drug companies.

Sara Rodriguez will fight price gouging by prescription drug companies.

Do you have an experience with high prescription drug costs? Share it with us here!

No matter where we come from in Wisconsin, unaffordable prescription drug prices are putting our health and economic security at risk. Powerful drug and insurance corporations divide us to pad their own profit.

SARA RODRIGUEZ will work to ensure that everyone no matter where they live, what they look like or what’s in their wallets will get affordable access to the critical medicines they need to live healthy lives.

SARA RODRIGUEZ will be a leader in the fight to end price gouging by drug corporations, by creating a Prescription Drug Affordability Board authorized to set a fair price on how much we can pay out of pocket for medicines and requiring transparency when they increase the prices of their drugs.

SARA RODRIGUEZ stands with us against the big insurance and pharma corporations that would use this crisis to generate profits rather than providing the COVID-19 testing, treatment, and medications we need to get and stay well.

SARA RODRIGUEZ supports guaranteeing no cost COVID-19 treatment for everyone, including all vaccines and therapeutic medications.

All In Wisconsin.

Kristin Lyerly will fight price gouging by prescription drug companies.

Do you have an experience with high prescription drug costs? Share it with us here!

No matter where we come from in Wisconsin, unaffordable prescription drug prices are putting our health and economic security at risk. Powerful drug and insurance corporations divide us to pad their own profit.

KRISTIN LYERY will work to ensure that everyone no matter where they live, what they look like or what’s in their wallets will get affordable access to the critical medicines they need to live healthy lives.

KRISTIN LYERY will be a leader in the fight to end price gouging by drug corporations, by creating a Prescription Drug Affordability Board authorized to set a fair price on how much we can pay out of pocket for medicines and requiring transparency when they increase the prices of their drugs.

KRISTIN LYERY stands with us against the big insurance and pharma corporations that would use this crisis to generate profits rather than providing the COVID-19 testing, treatment, and medications we need to get and stay well.

KRISTIN LYERY supports guaranteeing no cost COVID-19 treatment for everyone, including all vaccines and therapeutic medications.

All In Wisconsin.

Emily Siegrist will fight price gouging by prescription drug companies.

Emily Siegrist will fight price gouging by prescription drug companies.

Do you have an experience with high prescription drug costs? Share it with us here!

No matter where we come from in Wisconsin, unaffordable prescription drug prices are putting our health and economic security at risk. Powerful drug and insurance corporations divide us to pad their own profit.

EMILY SIEGRIST will work to ensure that everyone no matter where they live, what they look like or what’s in their wallets will get affordable access to the critical medicines they need to live healthy lives.

EMILY SIEGRIST will be a leader in the fight to end price gouging by drug corporations, by creating a Prescription Drug Affordability Board authorized to set a fair price on how much we can pay out of pocket for medicines and requiring transparency when they increase the prices of their drugs.

EMILY SIEGRIST stands with us against the big insurance and pharma corporations that would use this crisis to generate profits rather than providing the COVID-19 testing, treatment, and medications we need to get and stay well.

EMILY SIEGRIST supports guaranteeing no cost COVID-19 treatment for everyone, including all vaccines and therapeutic medications.

All In Wisconsin.

Josefine Jaynes will fight price gouging by prescription drug companies.

Do you have an experience with high prescription drug costs? Share it with us here!

No matter where we come from in Wisconsin, unaffordable prescription drug prices are putting our health and economic security at risk. Powerful drug and insurance corporations divide us to pad their own profit.

JOSEFINE JAYNES will work to ensure that everyone no matter where they live, what they look like or what’s in their wallets will get affordable access to the critical medicines they need to live healthy lives.

JOSEFINE JAYNES will be a leader in the fight to end price gouging by drug corporations, by creating a Prescription Drug Affordability Board authorized to set a fair price on how much we can pay out of pocket for medicines and requiring transparency when they increase the prices of their drugs.

JOSEFINE JAYNES stands with us against the big insurance and pharma corporations that would use this crisis to generate profits rather than providing the COVID-19 testing, treatment, and medications we need to get and stay well.

JOSEFINE JAYNES supports guaranteeing no cost COVID-19 treatment for everyone, including all vaccines and therapeutic medications.

All In Wisconsin.

Sarah Yacoub will fight price gouging by prescription drug companies.

Do you have an experience with high prescription drug costs? Share it with us here!

No matter where we come from in Wisconsin, unaffordable prescription drug prices are putting our health and economic security at risk. Powerful drug and insurance corporations divide us to pad their own profit.

SARAH YACOUB will work to ensure that everyone no matter where they live, what they look like or what’s in their wallets will get affordable access to the critical medicines they need to live healthy lives.

SARAH YACOUB will be a leader in the fight to end price gouging by drug corporations, by creating a Prescription Drug Affordability Board authorized to set a fair price on how much we can pay out of pocket for medicines and requiring transparency when they increase the prices of their drugs.

SARAH YACOUB stands with us against the big insurance and pharma corporations that would use this crisis to generate profits rather than providing the COVID-19 testing, treatment, and medications we need to get and stay well.

SARAH YACOUB supports guaranteeing no cost COVID-19 treatment for everyone, including all vaccines and therapeutic medications.

All In Wisconsin.

Democrat Kristina Shelton has big ideas.

Democrat Kristina Shelton is the Program Director at the YWCA of Greater Green Bay where she advocates for the needs of Green Bay residents. Kristina is a former educator who was elected to the Green Bay School Board in 2019 and is its Vice President.

Health Care

Kristina Shelton has never backed away from taking on the big challenges. She currently fights for our kids on the Green Bay school board. Now she has some big ideas for improving our health care. Kristina believes healthcare is a human right and no one should go bankrupt because they get sick or delay medical treatment because they can’t afford it.

With Kristina Shelton’s experience, we can trust her to fight for everyone to have affordable health care. Kristina will accept the federal Medicaid money that will expand BadgerCare to 82,000 people in Wisconsin. Kristina also supports opening up a BadgerCare “Public Option” so everyone can have health insurance in Wisconsin.

Kristina understands that prescription drug costs have become an emergency and no one should have to choose between medicine or groceries.

Kristina knows that reproductive care is healthcare. She is committed to protecting reproductive rights for Wisconsin women, and ensuring that the full scope of sexual health services are accessible to all.

COVID-19 relief while fighting the climate crisis.

Kristina Shelton believes Wisconsin must help working families struggling economically to survive during the coronavirus crisis, and can do so in a way that also begins to address the climate crisis.

During the New Deal, America addressed the pain of the Great Depression in a way that also built the foundation for the postwar economic boom.

Kristina Shelton will fight for a similar approach to the COVID-19 depression, creating jobs and income for struggling working families in a way that also builds the sustainable green economy we need to avert a climate catastrophe.

Most recently, she won the 2019 “Activist of the Year Award” from Citizen Action’s Northeast Wisconsin Co-op.

Kristina has been married to her husband, Jon, for 14 years. Together, they have two kids attending school in the Green Bay Area Public School District.

Citizen Action of Wisconsin’s Memo re: COVID-19 to Governor Evers

MEMORANDUM 

To: Governor Tony Evers Administration
From: Robert Kraig

RE: Brief Memo on COVID-19 Emergency Response Related to BadgerCare and Private Health Coverage
Date: March 21, 2020

On a Health Matters coalition call earlier this week, Jamie Kuhn, the Governor’s Outreach Director, requested from health advocates short bullet points on actionable policy proposals. 

Citizen Action of Wisconsin put out a press release on important policy options on Friday, based on the information available to us at the time.  As your administration is in much better position to have the latest information, and has the full expertice of state government to draw on, I am going to just distill our policy proposals, minus the public explanations and framing necessary for a news release.

The Governor is correct to strongly urge social distancing to slow down and contain the spread of COVID-19. Given the testing failure, however, many are already infected and the disease is in its incubation period, silently infecting many friends, coworkers, and family members. Some with symptoms are not seeking treatment due to fear of crippling health care costs. It is vital public safety to remove all cost barriers to testing and treatment. Statewide opinion research we released last week with the help of the Health Value Hub and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows that the fear of unaffordable costs deterred almost half of Wisconsinites from seeking needed medical care and treatment in the last year. Given the testing backlog this means making it clear through immediate policy change that both testing and treatment will be cost free with no out of pocket costs. When testing is available more widely, national and international experts think we will need to move to community-wide testing. This will also require a guarantee of no cost sharing for testing or treatment to induce younger and healthier people to seek testing even if they feel well. 

Citizen Action’s policies we propose are:

  1. Wisconsin has the authority to propose emergency waivers to the federal government, which can be approved within days of submission by CMS under federal emergency rules. A number of states have already proposed waivers and received approval. These waivers, if used to the full extent of the precedent set in previous national emergencies,  can make it much easier to enroll in BadgerCare and to retain it, including online and phone enrollment, extension of renewal deadlines, suspension of cancellations, and elimination of barriers such as premiums, copays, work requirements, and many other administrative hurdles and barriers. Critically, Wisconsin could adopt a “presumptive eligibility” policy that allows medical providers, community health centers, and others to enroll people in BadgerCare without any income test if they appear eligible. This is especially helpful in an environment where there are mass layoffs and it would be time consuming to confirm that a family was eligible when unemployment insurance claims are likely to overwhelm the state’s processing capacity. The Coronavirus Relief Act which passed Congress this week increases the federal share of Medicaid costs in Wisconsin to 65.5%, offsetting part of the state cost for expanding BadgerCare enrollment.
  2. The massive level of cost sharing in most private health insurance plans also deters people from seeking COVID-19 testing and treatment, endangering public health. A number of states already mandated that health insurance plans cover COVID-19 testing and treatment with no consumer cost sharing. So far, OCI has only recommended that insurers suspend copays and deductibles. It would be prudent for Wisconsin to actually ban cost sharing as a danger to public health, as according to Kaiser 3 states have done (as of Friday) for all testing and treatment and any future vaccine, and 10 states have done for all testing and a future vaccine. If this creates too much of a burden on health insurance and self-insured plans, Wisconsin could also outlaw hospital price gouging by requiring them to accept Medicare rates (or some percentage such as 150% of those rates) for all treatment for any condition that results from a COVID-19 test. There is no justification for hospitals and medical providers to charge unreasonable prices for their services during this state and national emergency. Most independent  Health care experts believe that negotiated private insurance rates in the U.S. are the most expensive in the world, and are not justified.
  3. Wisconsin should immediately expand BadgerCare by accepting the Medicaid Expansion authorized and funded by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Without ACA Medicaid Expansion, “presumptive eligibility” will not work for many adults who do not fit into specific Medicaid eligible categories and are (or appear to be) above the federal poverty line. In addition, as Wisconsin is losing $340 million in the current state budget because it turned down the ACA Medicaid expansion funding, this revenue could immediately be deployed in the fight to contain COVID-19. Accepting Medicaid Expansion would allow Wisconsin to use presumptive eligibility to get the state close to universal health coverage and to reassure the public that cost should not deter them from seeking COVID-19 testing and treatment. It would also defray some and perhaps all of the state’s costs for increased enrollment resulting from all of the emergency measures we propose.
  4. Wisconsin should follow the State of Washington in seeking a waiver to expand Medicaid eligibility well above the ACA Medicaid expansion level of 138% of Federal Poverty Level. Citizen Action urges you to consider this for all of the reasons stated above, especially the effective use of presumptive eligibility to cover as many Wisconsinites as possible. Private insurance, unless you can effectively ban all cost sharing, cancellations and renewal requirements, is inappropriate for people who have little or no financial margin. Also it will be much harder to enroll people in private insurance than a streamlined BadgerCare enrollment process, and the Trump Administration has not as of yet even created a new special enrollment period for ACA marketplace plans for COVID-19. There is nothing magical about 100% or 138% of FPL, and they are not based in any way on the actual ability to manage and pay for private health insurance and medical cost sharing.

Highlighting the Human Face of BadgerCare Expansion

For months now, Citizen Action of Wisconsin has been fighting for BadgerCare expansion. And although expansion did not happen in the budget, we are not done fighting. 

Earlier this summer, Governor Tony Evers, Senator Jon Erpenbach, and Representative Daniel Riemer introduced BadgerCare expansion legislation. We are under no illusion that the bill’s path forward will be easy. So far, Republican legislators have been unwilling to publicly support expansion, even if they are open to the idea. That is why we are redoubling our efforts to highlight the real-life consequences of failing to expand BadgerCare, and the ways in which our neighbors and community would benefit from expansion.

At Citizen Action, we know that the way to move hearts and minds on this important issue is to put the human faces of BadgerCare expansion front and center. Take, for example, the story of our Co-Op Organizer Noah Reif. When the expansion bill was introduced in August, Noah told us her story and explained why she supports expansion: 

“BadgerCare expansion would mean almost 1,400 hard-working Eau Claire County residents would be eligible to receive quality, affordable care. As an individual, I benefited from state health insurance plans when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 2 years old. Simply put, I would not be here if not for Wisconsin’s investment in me and my family. BadgerCare expansion is an opportunity to extend that life-saving investment to other people like me who need it.”

If you have a health care experience that you would like to share with us, please reach out to our organizer Mireya Mercado at [email protected]

Here are some of the ways that BadgerCare expansion would help Wisconsinites:

  • Improve access to preventative care and save lives: Reducing the number of people without insurance means more people can receive preventative care. Not only does this make our health care system more effective and affordable for everyone, but it helps prevent unnecessary deaths – especially those caused by disease, accidents, injuries, and drug abuse.
  • Reduce insurance coverage disparities: The Affordable Care Act cause significant gains in health care coverage among Wisconsinites. However, significant racial disparities in coverage still exist in our state. For example, Latinx Wisconsinites are uninsured at rates three times higher than the state’s White residents. Expanding BadgerCare eligibility to 138% of the Federal Poverty line would go a long way in reducing this disparity.
  • Improve health care coverage for children: When Scott Walker forced tens of thousands of parents off BadgerCare in 2014, the number of uninsured children living above the poverty level increased sharply. Wisconsin was once a national leader in insuring children. With BadgerCare expansion and an investment in children and families, we could be again.
  • Prevent financial hardships for low-income, working adults and families: The Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimated that over 80,000 additional adults would be covered by BadgerCare if the program were expanded up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Line. Many of the individuals who would benefit from expansion are eligible for marketplace or employer-sponsored insurance under the current system, but cannot afford the premiums, deductibles, or copays of the plans available to them. Every day, people are forced to choose between paying for health care coverage, or necessities like food, housing, and other bills. Choosing health care over other needs can be a terrible financial burden. Expanding BadgerCare would help ease that burden for tens of thousands of Wisconsinites.

We believe that everyone in Wisconsin ought to receive and be able to afford high-quality health care when they need it. We also know that many people in our community face tremendous barriers to receiving the health care they deserve. At Citizen Action, we are working hard to elevate the needs and voices of those individuals. 

If, like us, you believe that health care is a human right and you want to help us put a human face on this issue, please consider joining one of our Organizing Co-ops.

Bill Kaplan: Health care is on the line

Bill Kaplan: Health care is on the line

Fifty-three percent of Americans view the Affordable Care Act (ACA) “favorably”, an “all-time high” (Kaiser Family Foundation poll, September 13, 2019). Why? The ACA extended comprehensive quality health coverage to over 22 million through ACA affordable private insurance (covers 193,303 Wisconsinites), Medicaid expansion and allowing young adults (under 26) to be covered through their parents’ insurance. And, the ACA guarantees coverage to 52 million, including 852,000 Wisconsinites, with preexisting conditions (Kaiser). Moreover, the ACA lowered out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare enrollees. Finally, the ACA reduced uncompensated care, helping both rural and urban hospitals.

However, Trump continues to sabotage the ACA by making it harder to enroll in ACA private insurance: cutting the open enrollment period by half, nearly eliminating advertising, slashing funding for enrollment assistance, ending federal cost-sharing payments and allowing the sale of worthless “junk insurance”. Moreover, Trump is trying to have the ACA declared unconstitutional through a federal lawsuit orchestrated by former Governor Scott Walker. A decision may come soon. And, if all else fails, Trump is counting on being reelected in 2020 with a GOP-led Congress to repeal the ACA.

No surprise then that fewer Americans are insured: “About 27.5 million people, or 8.5 percent of the population lacked health insurance for all of 2018, up from 7.9 percent the year before, the Census Bureau reported … (Wisconsin’s ACA coverage declined from 235,444 in 2017 to 193,303 currently). It was the first (national) increase since the (ACA) took full effect in 2014, and experts said it was at least partly the result of the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine the law” (New York Times).

However, not all Republicans have their heads in the sand. 38 states, including 16 GOP-led, have (3 in process) Medicaid expansion. Many in the GOP recognize that ACA Medicaid expansion helps mightily: reduces the uninsured and uncompensated care, keeps rural hospitals open, increases access to treat opioid misuse and substitutes federal for state expenditures, providing jobs and producing savings for roads, transit and schools. In Mississippi, former state Chief Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller ran for the GOP gubernatorial nomination supporting Medicaid expansion. He lost in a run-off, but state voters can now vote for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Hood who supports expanding Medicaid, as does Republican Delbert Hosemann, running for lieutenant governor.

Some Wisconsin Republicans get it. GOP state Senator Luther Olsen said: “I honestly think we have to take it (Medicaid expansion federal funding). Whether we do or not, I don’t know. We need to look with an open mind what it does for the state of Wisconsin” (2019). And, GOP state Senator Jerry Petrowski said: “I believe that we could have taken the (Medicaid expansion) money, however I could not find enough votes to get it done” (2014). Wisconsin voters should encourage GOP legislators to do right: ring the Madison Capitol Square with posters of GOP governors and legislators from around the nation on why they supported Medicaid expansion for their states.

And, vote! Health care is on the line.

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