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Scott Walker Archives — Protect Our Care

Wisconsin Republicans Cement Their Subversion of Democracy

Washington, D.C. – This afternoon, outgoing Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed legislation preventing the duly elected incoming Democratic Governor and Attorney General from withdrawing from the deeply unpopular Walker-Schimel-Trump assault on the Affordable Care Act and pre-existing conditions in federal court. In response, Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, released the following statement:

“Scott Walker and Wisconsin Republicans don’t care about protecting their constituents’ health care, the rule of law, or the will of the people. After being trounced at the polls precisely because of their of their anti-health care agenda, despite their last ditch false promises to protect people with pre-existing conditions, they went ahead and rammed through legislation designed to take away Wisconsinites’ coverage while refusing to pass legislation to protect those individuals with pre-existing conditions. 2.4 million Wisconsinites could lose their health insurance and Scott Walker and his band of phony cronies could not care less. This is far from over.”

BACKGROUND:

MILLIONS OF WISCONSINITES AT RISK

2,435,700 Wisconsinites Live With A Pre-Existing Condition. About one in two Wisconsinites, 51 percent, lives with a pre-existing condition. [Center for American Progress, 4/5/17]

1,187,000 Wisconsin Women And Girls Have A Pre-Existing Condition. Approximately 1,187,000 women and girls in Wisconsin live with a pre-existing condition. [Center for American Progress and the National Partnership For Women and Families, June 2018]

308,100 Wisconsin Children Already Have A Pre-Existing Condition. Roughly 308,000 Wisconsinites below age 18 live with a pre-existing condition. [Center for American Progress, 4/5/17]

616,900 Older Wisconsinites Live With A Pre-Existing Condition. 616,900 Wisconsin adults between the ages of 55 and 64 live with at least one pre-existing condition, meaning attacks on these protections significantly threaten Wisconsinites approaching Medicare age. [Center for American Progress, 4/5/17]

THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT OUTLAWED DISCRIMINATION BASED ON PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS – GOP LAWSUIT TO OVERTURN THE LAW BRINGS DISCRIMINATION AGAINST PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS BACK

Because Of The Affordable Care Act, Insurance Companies Can No Longer Deny Coverage Or Charge More Because Of Pre-Existing Conditions. Under current law, health insurance companies can’t refuse to cover you or charge you more just because you have a ‘pre-existing condition’ — that is, a health problem you had before the date that new health coverage starts.” [HHS]

The ACA Outlawed Medical Underwriting, The Practice That Let Insurance Companies Charge Sick People And Women More. As the Brookings Institution summarizes, “The ACA outlawed medical underwriting, which had enabled insurance carriers to court the healthiest customers while denying coverage to people likely to need costly care. The ACA guaranteed that all applicants could buy insurance and that their premiums would not be adjusted for gender or personal characteristics other than age and smoking.”

The ACA Stopped Companies From Charging Women More Than Men For The Same Plan. The Affordable Care Act eliminated “gender rating,” meaning American women no longer have to pay an aggregated $1 billion more per year than men for the same coverage.

Thanks To The Affordable Care Act, Insurance Companies Can No Longer Rescind Coverage Because of Illness. Because of the ACA, insurance companies can no longer rescind or cancel someone’s coverage arbitrarily if they get sick.

HEALTH CARE WAS THE TOP ISSUE FOR WISCONSIN VOTERS

A Public Policy Polling election day survey of Wisconsin voters found that health care was the top issue for voters in the state — and that they overwhelmingly favored Democrats on it, propelling Tony Evers to victory.

  • 68% of voters said that health care was either a very important issue, or the most important issue to them. Those voters supported Evers over Scott Walker 65-33.
  • When asked to name the single issue most important to them in 2018, a plurality (27%) picked health care. Among those voters who said health care was their single most important issue in the election, Evers defeated Walker by a whopping 89-7 margin.
  • Evers especially had an advantage over Walker when it came to the issue of who voters trusted more to protect people with pre-existing conditions. 50% preferred Evers to protect pre-existing conditions to only 41% who preferred Walker.
  • Scott Walker’s support for the Republican health care repeal agenda hurt him badly. Only 32% of voters said his support for repeal made them more likely to vote for him, while 47% said it made them less likely to support him.

An overwhelming majority of Wisconsinites want to see the Affordable Care Act stay in place – 62% think it should be kept with fixes made to it as necessary, compared to only 32% of voters who support repealing it.

BREAKING: Wisconsin Republicans’ Pre-Existing Conditions Fraud

Senate Passes Bill Keeping Wisconsin in Pre-Existing Conditions Lawsuit, Despite Voters’ Wishes

Republicans Did Not Have Support to Even Pretend to Protect Pre-Existing Conditions as Walker Promised

Washington, D.C. – After hours of closed door debate, Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate failed to muster enough support to for legislation that they falsely claimed would ensure protections for people with pre-existing conditions, despite their efforts to invalidate them in federal court. This bill comes after Republican Senators passed legislation that seeks to deny the duly elected incoming Democratic Governor and Attorney General from withdrawing participating in Walker-Schimel-Trump’s assault on pre-existing conditions in federal court. That bill passed the legislature and now heads to the Governor.

Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, released the following statement in response:

“I’d like to thank the Wisconsin Republicans who just proved that all of Scott Walker’s crocodile tears on the campaign trail about protecting people with pre-existing conditions were a total charade. For a decade, Wisconsin Republicans have tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act and its protections for the 2.4 million Wisconsinites living with pre-existing conditions, and that has never changed.

“By digging their heels in on their lawsuit to eliminate pre-existing conditions and repeal the Affordable Care Act, Scott Walker, Brad Schimel, and Wisconsin Republicans are proving they don’t really care about the health of their constituents and that they’ve learned nothing from the outcome of November’s election. Tony Evers and Josh Kaul were elected because of their pro-health care positions, including their pledges to withdraw from the Walker-Schimel-Trump lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and the will of the voters should be respected.”

BACKGROUND:

MILLIONS OF WISCONSINITES AT RISK

2,435,700 Wisconsinites Live With A Pre-Existing Condition. About one in two Wisconsinites, 51 percent, lives with a pre-existing condition. [Center for American Progress, 4/5/17]

1,187,000 Wisconsin Women And Girls Have A Pre-Existing Condition. Approximately 1,187,000 women and girls in Wisconsin live with a pre-existing condition. [Center for American Progress and the National Partnership For Women and Families, June 2018]

308,100 Wisconsin Children Already Have A Pre-Existing Condition. Roughly 308,000 Wisconsinites below age 18 live with a pre-existing condition. [Center for American Progress, 4/5/17]

616,900 Older Wisconsinites Live With A Pre-Existing Condition. 616,900 Wisconsin adults between the ages of 55 and 64 live with at least one pre-existing condition, meaning attacks on these protections significantly threaten Wisconsinites approaching Medicare age. [Center for American Progress, 4/5/17]

THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT OUTLAWED DISCRIMINATION BASED ON PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS — GOP LAWSUIT TO OVERTURN THE LAW BRINGS DISCRIMINATION AGAINST PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS BACK

Because Of The Affordable Care Act, Insurance Companies Can No Longer Deny Coverage Or Charge More Because Of Pre-Existing Conditions. Under current law, health insurance companies can’t refuse to cover you or charge you more just because you have a ‘pre-existing condition’ — that is, a health problem you had before the date that new health coverage starts.” [HHS]

The ACA Outlawed Medical Underwriting, The Practice That Let Insurance Companies Charge Sick People And Women More. As the Brookings Institution summarizes, “The ACA outlawed medical underwriting, which had enabled insurance carriers to court the healthiest customers while denying coverage to people likely to need costly care. The ACA guaranteed that all applicants could buy insurance and that their premiums would not be adjusted for gender or personal characteristics other than age and smoking.”

The ACA Stopped Companies From Charging Women More Than Men For The Same Plan. The Affordable Care Act eliminated “gender rating,” meaning American women no longer have to pay an aggregated $1 billion more per year than men for the same coverage.

Thanks To The Affordable Care Act, Insurance Companies Can No Longer Rescind Coverage Because of Illness. Because of the ACA, insurance companies can no longer rescind or cancel someone’s coverage arbitrarily if they get sick.

HEALTH CARE WAS THE TOP ISSUE FOR WISCONSIN VOTERS

A Public Policy Polling election day survey of Wisconsin voters found that health care was the top issue for voters in the state — and that they overwhelmingly favored Democrats on it, propelling Tony Evers to victory.

 

  • 68% of voters said that health care was either a very important issue, or the most important issue to them. Those voters supported Evers over Scott Walker 65-33.
  • When asked to name the single issue most important to them in 2018, a plurality (27%) picked health care. Among those voters who said health care was their single most important issue in the election, Evers defeated Walker by a whopping 89-7 margin.
  • Evers especially had an advantage over Walker when it came to the issue of who voters trusted more to protect people with pre-existing conditions. 50% preferred Evers to protect pre-existing conditions to only 41% who preferred Walker.
  • Scott Walker’s support for the Republican health care repeal agenda hurt him badly. Only 32% of voters said his support for repeal made them more likely to vote for him, while 47% said it made them less likely to support him.
  • An overwhelming majority of Wisconsinites want to see the Affordable Care Act stay in place – 62% think it should be kept with fixes made to it as necessary, compared to only 32% of voters who support repealing it.

Ignoring Will of Voters, Wisconsin Republicans Seek to Cement Their Assault on People with Pre-Existing Conditions

Washington, D.C. – Today, Wisconsin Republicans will hold hearings on a “sweeping plan” to weaken the powers held by Governor-elect Tony Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul before they take office, including preventing the next Attorney General from withdrawing from the Republican lawsuit to end pre-existing conditions protections. Leslie Dach, chair of Protect Our Care, released the following statement in response:

“On Election Day, voters across Wisconsin rejected the Walker-Schimel war on health care and elected Tony Evers and Josh Kaul to protect their care, starting with maintaining strong pre-existing condition protections. Now, Wisconsin Republicans want to use the lame-duck legislative session to overturn the will of the voters and jam their pro-repeal agenda down the throats of Wisconsinites, which is absolute lunacy and a slap in the face of democracy. If Wisconsin Republicans succeed in passing this legislation, they’ll put 2.4 million Wisconsinites with pre-existing conditions in the crosshairs of their relentless war on health care and prove just how phony Scott Walker’s failed campaign promises to protect people with pre-existing conditions were.”

BACKGROUND

2,435,700 Wisconsinites Live With A Pre-Existing Condition. About one in two Wisconsinites, 51 percent, lives with a pre-existing condition. [Center for American Progress, 4/5/17]

1,187,000 Wisconsin Women And Girls Have A Pre-Existing Condition. Approximately 1,187,000 women and girls in Wisconsin live with a pre-existing condition. [Center for American Progress and the National Partnership For Women and Families, June 2018]

308,100 Wisconsin Children Already Have A Pre-Existing Condition. Roughly 308,000 Wisconsinites below age 18 live with a pre-existing condition. [Center for American Progress, 4/5/17]

616,900 Older Wisconsinites Live With A Pre-Existing Condition. 616,900 Wisconsin adults between the ages of 55 and 64 live with at least one pre-existing condition, meaning attacks on these protections significantly threaten Wisconsinites approaching Medicare age. [Center for American Progress, 4/5/17]

THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT OUTLAWED DISCRIMINATION BASED ON PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS

Because Of The Affordable Care Act, Insurance Companies Can No Longer Deny Coverage Or Charge More Because Of Pre-Existing Conditions. Under current law, health insurance companies can’t refuse to cover you or charge you more just because you have a ‘pre-existing condition’ — that is, a health problem you had before the date that new health coverage starts.” [HHS]

The ACA Outlawed Medical Underwriting, The Practice That Let Insurance Companies Charge Sick People And Women More. As the Brookings Institution summarizes, “The ACA outlawed medical underwriting, which had enabled insurance carriers to court the healthiest customers while denying coverage to people likely to need costly care. The ACA guaranteed that all applicants could buy insurance and that their premiums would not be adjusted for gender or personal characteristics other than age and smoking.”

The ACA Stopped Companies From Charging Women More Than Men For The Same Plan. The Affordable Care Act eliminated “gender rating,” meaning American women no longer have to pay an aggregated $1 billion more per year than men for the same coverage.

Thanks To The Affordable Care Act, Insurance Companies Can No Longer Rescind Coverage Because of Illness. Because of the ACA, insurance companies can no longer rescind or cancel someone’s coverage arbitrarily if they get sick.

HEALTH CARE WAS THE TOP ISSUE FOR WISCONSIN VOTERS

A Public Policy Polling election day survey of Wisconsin voters found that health care was the top issue for voters in the state — and that they overwhelmingly favored Democrats on it, propelling Tony Evers to victory.

  • 68% of voters said that health care was either a very important issue, or the most important issue to them. Those voters supported Evers over Scott Walker 65-33.
  • When asked to name the single issue most important to them in 2018, a plurality (27%) picked health care. Among those voters who said health care was their single most important issue in the election, Evers defeated Walker by a whopping 89-7 margin.
  • Evers especially had an advantage over Walker when it came to the issue of who voters trusted more to protect people with pre-existing conditions. 50% preferred Evers to protect pre-existing conditions to only 41% who preferred Walker.
  • Scott Walker’s support for the Republican health care repeal agenda hurt him badly. Only 32% of voters said his support for repeal made them more likely to vote for him, while 47% said it made them less likely to support him.
  • An overwhelming majority of Wisconsinites want to see the Affordable Care Act stay in place – 62% think it should be kept with fixes made to it as necessary, compared to only 32% of voters who support repealing it.

Wisconsinites Stand Up to Say, “It’s Time to End the Republican War on Health Care”

Local Health Care Advocates Join Protect Our Care to Call for an End to GOP Attacks on Wisconsinites’ Health Care

Mandela Barnes speaks at the Protect Our Care event in Madison, Wisconsin.

MADISON, WISCONSIN – This morning, Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour arrived in Madison to call attention to ongoing Republican war on health care care. Former State Representative Mandela Barnes, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, and State Representative Christine Taylor joined cancer survivor Laura Packard to highlight the actions Republicans are taking to harm Wisconsinites’ care and called on Attorney General Brad Schimel to work instead to protect our care.

“It’s a very scary thought when your government does not want you to be taken care of,” Barnes said about the GOP’s constant attacks on Wisconsinites with pre-existing conditions. “When Governor Scott Walker gets on TV and says he wants to cover pre-existing conditions, he is lying to you.”

Barnes’ comments were echoed by Rep. Taylor and Mayor Soglin, who expressed their outrage with the GOP sabotage agenda.

“We could have saved $200 million and we could have covered 85,000 Wisconsinites,” Rep. Taylor said about the decision to refuse to expand Medicaid. “This governor had the opportunity to cover more and pay less, and he refused to do it.

“I cannot understand for the life of me why we have a governor so intent on taking away care.”

“The Affordable Care Act has been the most critical piece of legislation passed in the last generation,” said Mayor Soglin, who spoke of his frustration with Republicans over their refusal to expand coverage to Wisconsinites and the harm his constituents are unnecessarily facing because of GOP actions.

The stakes of the event were made clear by Packard.

“I’m alive because of the Affordable Care Act,” said Packard. “I’m a stage four cancer survivor and I’m on this tour to defend our attacks against the GOP. President Trump may have blocked me on Twitter, but he can’t stop me and the American people from fighting to protect our care.”

At today’s event, Madison residents, health care advocates, elected officials, and members of Protect Our Care detailed the numbers ways in which Republicans have attacked health care, and how these actions have cut coverage and increased costs for Wisconsinites. Because of the Republican repeal-and-sabotage agenda:

  • Wisconsinites will see their premiums rise by an average of 3.5 percent next year. It’s expected that 40 year old Wisconsinites would face paying an extra $1,450 for marketplace coverage in 2019 because of sabotage of the ACA.
  • In Wisconsin, out of pocket costs for older people could have increased by as much as $12,249 by 2026 if the House-passed American Health Care Act had become law.
  • More than 80,000 Wisconsinites have been denied access to affordable health coverage through Republican state officials’ refusal to expand Medicaid.
  • 216,000 Wisconsinites who have obtained health insurance through the ACA marketplace could lose their coverage if a judge sides with Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, President Trump and the GOP in their lawsuit; and protections for 2.4 million Wisconsinites living with a pre-existing condition would be in jeopardy.
  • Hundreds of billions of dollars have been cut from Medicare.
  • Dozens of hospitals in rural areas, including Franciscan Skemp Medical Center (2011) in Wisconsin, have closed exacerbating the care and coverage gaps that exist for families in America’s rural communities.
  • Attorney General Brad Schimel is a staunch opponent of the Affordable Care Act who has vowed to try to repeal the law. Although he claims to support protections for people with pre-existing conditions, Schimel was one of the first state attorneys general to join lawsuit that would roll back that coverage and eliminate the protections for pre-existing conditions that exist in the ACA. Schimel’s participation in the suit puts the health of the 2.4 million Wisconsinites living with a pre-existing condition at risk and would take us back to the days when insurers routinely denied coverage or charged unaffordable premiums to people with pre-existing conditions, including cancer, asthma, and hypertension.
  • Leah Vukmir  supports a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Vukmir also supports the Trump administration’s lawsuit that could cause as many as 2.4 million Wisconsinites with a pre-existing condition to lose their care, calling it a “necessary step.”

Later today, “Care Force One” will head to Cedar Falls, Iowa. For more information, please visit protectourcarebustour.com.

FACT CHECK: SCOTT WALKER PUTS PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS PROTECTIONS AT RISK

In response to a disingenuous new ad from the Scott Walker campaign, Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement:

“We know Scott Walker supports gutting protections for pre-existing conditions because he authorized a lawsuit that would eliminate these protections entirely. Scott Walker’s plan for health care would literally turn the clock backward by bringing back discrimination against pre-existing conditions through his lawsuit and by reviving Wisconsin’s high-risk pool, which has been panned by experts because it drives up costs and restricts coverage. In fact, in testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives, the chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society specifically criticized Wisconsin’s high risk pool for the deadly waiting periods it imposed on people who needed care when they got sick. I’ll say it again: if Scott Walker wants to show he stands up for people with pre-existing conditions, he’ll withdraw his lawsuit to take away the protections we have in current law away.”

SCOTT WALKER’S LAWSUIT WOULD REVERSE PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS PROTECTIONS, THREATENING 2.4 MILLION WISCONSINITES’ CARE

2,435,700 Wisconsinites Live With A Pre-Existing Condition. About one in two Wisconsinites, 51 percent, lives with a pre-existing condition. [CAP, 4/5/17]

1,187,000 Wisconsin Women And Girls Have A Pre-Existing Condition. Approximately 1,187,000 women and girls in Wisconsin live with a pre-existing condition. [CAP & National Partnership For Women and Families, June 2018]

308,100 Wisconsin Children Already Have A Pre-Existing Condition. Roughly 308,000 Wisconsinites below age 18 live with a pre-existing condition. [CAP, 4/5/17]

616,900 Older Wisconsinites Live With A Pre-Existing Condition. 616,900 Wisconsin adults between the ages of 55 and 64 live with at least one pre-existing condition, meaning attacks on these protections significantly threaten Wisconsinites approaching Medicare age. [CAP, 4/5/17]

IT IS THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT THAT OUTLAWS DISCRIMINATION BASED ON PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS

Because Of The Affordable Care Act, Insurance Companies Can No Longer Deny Coverage Or Charge More Because Of Pre-Existing Conditions. Under current law, health insurance companies can’t refuse to cover you or charge you more just because you have a ‘pre-existing condition’ — that is, a health problem you had before the date that new health coverage starts.” [HHS]

The ACA Outlawed Medical Underwriting, The Practice That Let Insurance Companies Charge Sick People And Women More. As the Brookings Institution summarizes, “The ACA outlawed medical underwriting, which had enabled insurance carriers to court the healthiest customers while denying coverage to people likely to need costly care. The ACA guaranteed that all applicants could buy insurance and that their premiums would not be adjusted for gender or personal characteristics other than age and smoking.”

The ACA Stopped Companies From Charging Women More Than Men For The Same Plan. The Affordable Care Act eliminated “gender rating,” meaning American women no longer have to pay an aggregated $1 billion more per year than men for the same coverage.

Thanks To The Affordable Care Act, Insurance Companies Can No Longer Rescind Coverage Because of Illness. Because of the ACA, insurance companies can no longer rescind or cancel someone’s coverage arbitrarily if they get sick.

HIGH RISK POOLS IMPOSE HIGH PREMIUMS & DEDUCTIBLES …

Premiums For Coverage In High Risk Pools Were As Much As 200 Percent Higher Than The Average Rate But Covered Less Care. “High-risk pool enrollees faced substantially higher premiums than people in the normal individual market, often by as much as 150 percent to 200 percent, although some pools did offer subsidies to low-income enrollees…And stunningly, the overwhelming majority of state high-risk pools actually refused to pay for services associated with a patient’s pre-existing conditions in the first months of their enrollment.” [Center for American Progress, 2/16/17]

Deductibles For High Risk Pool Enrollees Were Well Above Maximum Allowed By ACA. ”Fourteen states had plans with deductibles of $10,000 per year or higher, substantially greater than the current maximum $7,150 deductible for catastrophic plans in the marketplaces. Thirty states imposed maximum lifetime limits; others had annual coverage limits as low as $75,000 per year.” [Commonwealth Fund, 3/29/17]

… COST TAXPAYERS MORE …

Despite High Premiums, High Risk Pools Could Still Cost The American People Over $90 Billion Annually. “The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently estimated that up to 17,875,000 people with preexisting conditions were uninsured in 2010. Had all of them been covered by high-risk pools, the cost would have been $194.8 billion in 2010 dollars, with premiums covering only $103.3 billion. Thus, states and the federal government would have needed to find $91.5 billion in additional funding to cover them all—much more than the up to $10 billion per year in federal assistance to states recently proposed by congressional Republicans.” [Commonwealth Fund, 3/29/17]

An Analysis Of High Risk Pools Under The ACHA Finds Such Pools Would Cost The Government Between $37 and $56 Billion Annually. “Government costs for supporting the high-risk pool using ACA-like coverage and subsidies would range from $37 to $56 billion in 2020 and $437 to $656 billion over 10 years (2020–2029), depending upon the eligibility rules used.” [The Urban Institute, May 2017]

Even Conservatives Estimated High Risk Pools Would Cost $15-$20 Billion Annually. “For comparison, conservative experts James Capretta and Tom Miller have estimated that $15 billion to $20 billion per year, or $150 billion to $200 billion over 10 years, would be needed to fully finance high-risk pools even if they covered only 2 million to 4 million people.” [Center For American Progress, 2/16/17]

Premiums For High Risk Pool Coverage Paid Just 53 Percent Of Program Costs. “Premiums ranged from 125 percent to 200 percent of average premiums in the individual market, yet covered only about 53 percent of claims and administrative costs nationally (Wisconsin allowed premiums up to 200 percent of average).” [Commonwealth Fund, 3/29/17]

… AND RESTRICT COVERAGE

High Risk Pools Typically Had Pre-Existing Condition Exclusions And Limited Benefits. Many such pools had pre-existing condition exclusion periods, limited benefits, and enrollment limits; all of these characteristics served to reduce the value of the coverage, creating high financial burdens for enrollees and limiting the number of people who could access the coverage.” [Health Affairs, 3/15/16]

Most State High Risk Pools Had Lifetime And Annual Limits On Coverage.  “Thirty-three pools [out of 35 states] imposed lifetime dollar limits on covered services, most ranging from $1 million to $2 million. In addition, six pools imposed annual dollar limits on all covered services while 13 others imposed annual dollar limits on specific benefits such as prescription drugs, mental health treatment, or rehabilitation.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 2/22/17]

High Risk Pools Typically Had Waiting Periods. “There were 35 state high-risk pools before the Affordable Care Act passed. To control costs, they would often do things like charge higher premiums than the individual market. Most had waiting periods before they would pay claims on members’ pre-existing conditions, meaning a cancer patient would need to pay premiums for six months or a year before the high-risk pool would cover her chemotherapy treatments.” [Vox, 5/3/17]

High Risk Pools Mean Delayed Or Forgone Care. “Even once they were in a high-risk pool, the high costs and limited benefits prompted some people to delay or forgo care, leading to poorer health outcomes and even more spending. And many families accrued substantial medical debt, even with the coverage.” [Stateline, 2/16/17]

HIGH RISK POOL = MORE PEOPLE UNINSURED

Limited Coverage And High Costs Cause People To Remain Uninsured. Some patients also delayed care to save money, exacerbating their health conditions, and only entered the pools when their conditions became emergencies.” [Stateline, 2/16/17]

CMS: One-Third Of Uninsurable Were Unable To Afford High Risk Pool Coverage. A 2004-05 study by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that “nationally, high-risk pool premiums are above 25 percent of family income (i.e., are unaffordable) for 10 percent of all individuals, 18 percent of the uninsured, and 29 percent of the uninsurable. By these standards, almost one-third of the uninsurable are unable to afford high-risk pool coverage…” [CMS, Health Care Financing Review, Winter 2004-2005]

HIGH RISK POOLS HAVE BEEN TRIED & FAILED

In Wisconsin, “Cancer Doesn’t Wait” For High Risk Pool Waiting Periods. “The benefit waiting periods used by Wisconsin’s and other states’ high-risk pools are a big concern for patient advocates and provider groups. ‘A six-month exclusionary period is a serious issue,’ said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, who also testified at the House hearing. ‘Cancer doesn’t wait.’” [Modern Healthcare, 2/13/17]

California High Risk Pool Led To Waiting Lists, High Premiums, And Lifetime Limits. “For example, California’s high-risk pool imposed a shorter-than-average, three-month waiting period before enrollees could receive treatment for pre-existing conditions—but also imposed a $75,000 annual limit on benefits along with a $750,000 lifetime limit. In addition, the state capped enrollment, resulting in long waiting lists of people unable to enroll; at the same time, the pool’s high premiums proved difficult for enrollees to afford, leading some to drop out.” [Center for American Progress, 2/16/17]

Premiums in Florida’s High Risk Pool Were Twice The Normal Rate. Many states starved high-risk pools of cash. Florida’s contained only about 200 people in 2011. Premiums were commonly twice the normal rate. Many states had enrollment caps, meaning that even people willing to fork over were not guaranteed coverage.” [The Economist, 1/16/17]

In Utah, High Risk Pools Were Limited In Size, And Offered Sub-Par, Delayed Coverage. “Stevenson said only 3,000 people signed up for Utah’s risk pool plan while 200,000 Utahns are signed up for insurance through Obamacare. ‘Utah’s past high risk pool plan had many limitations too,’ he said. People with pre-existing conditions had to wait six months before using their coverage. Pregnant women had a 10 month waiting period before they had any coverage for them or their baby. ‘The measure of success for a program is how many people it helps and if you are only covering 3,000 people and leaving tens of thousands uninsured, I don’t think that’s a good thing to go back to,’ he said.” [CBS KUTV, 3/9/17]

High Risk Pools Mean Higher Costs, Higher Uninsured, And Less Coverage. The reality is that high-risk pool coverage was prohibitively expensive and there is little evidence to suggest that the existence of such pools made coverage less costly for others in the individual insurance market. Without substantially more federal funding than currently proposed, these facts are not likely to change. People with preexisting conditions may have “access” to coverage, but most will not be able to afford it and those who can will face limited benefits and extremely high deductibles and out-of-pocket payments.” [Commonwealth Fund, 3/29/17]

 

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Changes Tune on Affordable Care Act in Election Year

Former Republican Presidential Candidate Sees Writing on the Wall for 2018

Washington, DC — In a sign of how dramatically the politics around health care have shifted, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, once an outspoken foe of the Affordable Care Act, has embraced a plan to strengthen the law in his state. The about-face comes soon after a national Protect Our Care poll showed that health care is a top priority for most voters going into the 2018 election cycle.

“Even ultra-conservative Scott Walker is finally facing facts: 2018 voters overwhelmingly prefer politicians who will work keep and improve the Affordable Care Act over candidates who support President Trump and Congressional Republicans’ unpopular sabotage-and-repeal agenda. Governor Walker should advise his Republican friends in Congress to face up to the writing on the wall and start supporting states’ efforts to improve the Affordable Care Act, instead of digging themselves a deeper hole by continuing to push partisan repeal bills and condone the Trump administration’s ongoing sabotage,” said Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse.

Walker, in Turnabout, Moves to Stabilize Insurance Market

AP // Scott Bauer

MADISON, Wis. — In a tack to the left in an election year, Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker announced Sunday that he wants a state law that would bar insurers from denying a person health coverage due to a pre-existing condition.

He also wants Wisconsin to join Minnesota, Oregon, Hawaii and Alaska in obtaining a federal waiver to offer reinsurance, a move designed to lower premiums for people in the private insurance marketplace.

Walker said the steps are necessary because “Washington failed to act” on passing a replacement for the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare” — in effect criticizing fellow Republicans who control Congress and the White House.

Democrats accused Walker of hypocrisy. He has been a consistent and vocal critic of the health care law, refused to participate in the federal marketplace and repeatedly advocated for the law’s repeal and replacement. He also previously suggested he might have Wisconsin opt out of the law’s pre-existing condition rules.

“Give me a break on this pivot,” Democratic Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz said. “The problem we’re trying to fix was self-inflicted by Governor Walker.”

By seeking a reinsurance waiver, Walker is taking a step to make the private marketplace in Wisconsin more stable and affordable for more than 200,000 people in it. He plans to use his State of the State speech on Wednesday to ask the Republican-controlled Legislature to approve the proposals this year, and said leaders are on board.

His ideas, including seeking a lifetime federal waiver for the state’s popular discount prescription drug program known as SeniorCare, have had bipartisan support in the past. Democratic state Sen. Jon Erpenbach said he expected Democrats to largely support the measures.

“Obviously the governor’s done some polling and he’s finding out he’s on the wrong side of history on health insurance and health care,” Erpenbach said.

Walker has been embracing ideas originally championed in whole or in part by Democrats as he seeks a third term in November. Earlier this month he called for closing the state’s troubled juvenile prison, which Democrats have pushed for years. And last year, he gave public schools essentially the level of funding requested by state schools Superintendent Tony Evers, a Democrat running against him for governor.

Walker told reporters he’s simply “listening to people across the state. It doesn’t matter if they’re Democrat or Republican. I don’t think those are Democrat issues, those are Wisconsin issues. People care about them.”

He said his latest health plan addresses the concerns of people who buy insurance through their employers by guaranteeing that pre-existing conditions will be covered. Even though that’s currently federal law, Walker said it is important that the state guarantee it and provide peace of mind.

Last year, the state Assembly passed a bill that would have done just that. Walker called on the Senate to pass it in the coming weeks.

The state’s discount prescription drug program for those over age 65 has received a federal waiver since 2002. It serves 60,000 seniors a month. The waiver has been extended four times, most recently in 2015. Walker said a permanent waiver would give peace of mind to seniors who rely on the discounted medicine.

Erpenbach doubted such a waiver could be granted without a change in federal law.

Walker’s push to make SeniorCare permanent comes seven years after he proposed cutting membership by forcing enrollees to first sign up for Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage, with the state program only covering what the federal one did not.

That was rejected after a bipartisan outcry.

Walker’s other new federal waiver request to offer reinsurance addresses the roughly 200,000 people in Wisconsin who purchase health insurance on the private marketplace under the “Obamacare” law. Reinsurance, which has bipartisan support, basically sets up a pool of money for the government to cover the cost of insurers’ most expensive cases.

Walker estimated his plan would cost $200 million, with the federal government paying 75 percent. He said the state’s share would come from savings from the Medicaid program.

Walker said he expected the program to result in lower rate increases in 2019 and stabilize a market that recently lost several larger insurers including UnitedHealth and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield. The state insurance office estimated that premium rates will increase an average of 36 percent this year.

Because of the loss of insurers, this year more than 75,000 people in Wisconsin had to change insurance companies and many of them were limited to one or two choices.