Re Scott Walker's supposedly excellent health care plan: WHOOPS! We told you so. | WisCommunity

Re Scott Walker's supposedly excellent health care plan: WHOOPS! We told you so.

The State of Wisconsin has now 'fessed up and told us that nearly 70% (roughly 54,000) of low-income residents whom Scott Walker dropped from BadgerCare health coverage did not -- as Walker suggested would happen -- purchase health insurance through the federal affordable care marketplace.

Comes as no surprise, because anyone with a calculator and an honest approach to the issue knew months ago that most of those who, thanks to Walker, are bereft of BadgerCare couldn't afford the private plans offered through the marketplace. Indeed, they have so little income they wouldn't qualify for the federal subsidies that make it affordable. But Walker claimed great success in advance, anyway.

I posted this here back in May:

For now Walker in effect asks you to assume all
those 63,000 BadgerCare enrollees he
disenfranchised actually did find alternate
coverage. It's an unlikely assumption, because the
private insurance offerings in the ACA marketplace,
even where federally subsidized, are likely more
expensive than BadgerCare coverage. So the 19,000
number is probably too high. It's in fact possible
that the actual net number of people Walker helped
gain health coverage is in the negative range.

Not only possible, but as it turns out, quite true.

Walker also claimed that his policies ensured that affordable health care would be available to all Wisconsin residents. Wrong. And all this comes at the cost to state taxpayers of hundreds of millions of dollars, since Walker refused to accept 100% "Obamacare" funding to truly add more disadvantaged citizens to BadgerCare. All because Walker said he couldn't trust that the federal dollars actually would be there. The rest of us, however, can now trust that his wrong-headed policy will cost us, big time.

How bad is it? Well, the numbers are fuzzy on the edges, because according to his administration some people whom Walker dropped from BadgerCare might (and that's a big "might") have obtained coverage elsewhere, perhaps through a newly working spouse -- because, you know, job growth in Walker's Wisconsin has been so (cough!) robust. In any event, The state doesn't know anything about that for sure. 

Summing up, absent wishful or even magical thinking: Walker said his policies would help 19,000 more Wisconsin residents get coverage. But, actually, at this point, overall enrollment numbers are 54,000 LESS than he predicted -- a negative difference of about 35,000. His prediction is thus nearly 200 percent too high. 

And in exchange for fewer people on health care, Wisconsin taxpayers will pay $100 million more in this budget cycle alone and hundreds of additional millions later, if Walker continues to refuse federal assistance. Some deal! But it gets worse.

Very likely, more at-risk Wisconsin men, women and children -- seniors, the poor, the disabled -- will start showing up at hospital emergency rooms, costing those hospitals many millions of dollars. And that's atop Walker's actions denying hospitals millions of other federal dollars to cover the pre-existing level of unreimbursed emergency care. That's a double whammy. We already know that hospitals in economically stressed neighborhoods, like St. Joseph's Hospital in Milwaukee, are losing money what with all the unreimbursed care they must absorb. Maybe St. Joe's will have to shut down, in which case there goes another Wisconsin hospital serving non-elites. And that will impose other social and economic costs on the citizens of Wisconsin.

It adds up to horrible health-care inefficiencies and taxpayer costs that were unnecessary, except in service to Walker's no-Obamacare ideology. But go ahead, governor. Proceed to run campaign ads touting your supposedly wise and highly successful health care reforms, which are totally out of step with what's happening in most other states, and which clearly aren't working.

As for the rest of us, know this, Wisconsin: When the governor and his minions in state government tell you the state is on course toward more health coverage at lower cost, it's largely due to the program Walker refused to help implement. That would be the Affordable Care Act or that self-same "Obamacare," which enrolled 166,000 Wisconsin residents in low-cost health insurance despite Walker's every effort to stop it. But now through his bureaucratic minions Walker's slyly trying to take credit for that, too.

You can almost hear Snidely Whiplash laughter emanating from the Capitol's East Wing: BWHAHAHAHAHAAA! Yup, the maniacs are in charge of state government, all right.


July 18, 2014 - 8:43am