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Wisconsin Archives — Protect Our Care

Governor Evers’ Successful Fight to Withdraw From Disastrous Texas Lawsuit a Victory for Health Care in Wisconsin

Washington, DC – Following Governor Tony Evers’ decision Thursday to withdraw Wisconsin from the Texas, et. al. vs. United States, et. al. lawsuit championed by Republican leaders in Wisconsin that would overturn the Affordable Care Act and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions, Protect Our Care chair Leslie Dach released the following statement:

“Governor Evers and Attorney General Kaul’s decision to pull Wisconsin out of the Texas lawsuit is a defeat for the Trump administration and Republican legislative leaders in Wisconsin’s relentless war on our health care. It is a victory for the nearly two and a half million Wisconsinites with pre-existing conditions. The governor’s decision makes clear that elections matter, and that Democrats across the country are making good on their promise to save our health care system from the ongoing acts of sabotage from Republicans and their disastrous lawsuit that would end protections for people with pre-existing conditions.”

BACKGROUND

In a December ruling, U.S. Northern District Court Judge Reed O’Connor used the courts to do what Republicans in Congress failed to do legislatively: strike down the Affordable Care Act. If O’Connor’s ruling is not overturned, it will rip coverage from millions of Americans, raise costs, end protections for people with pre-existing conditions, put insurance companies back in charge, and force seniors to pay more for prescription drugs. The result will be to — as the Trump Administration itself admitted in Court — unleash “chaos” in our entire health care system.

The ruling could have a devastating impact on Wisconsinites:

  • 2,435,700 Wisconsinites have a pre-existing condition, and would lose protections if this ruling is upheld.
  • 308,100 Wisconsin children have a pre-existing condition. One in four children, including 308,100 in Wisconsin, have a pre-existing condition.
  • 2 million Wisconsin women have a pre-existing condition. More than half of women and girls have a pre-existing condition, including 1,187,000 in Wisconsin.
  • 616,900 people aged 55-64 in Wisconsin have a pre-existing condition. 84 percent of older adults, 30.5 million Americans between age 55 and 64, have a pre-existing condition. This includes 616,900 in Wisconsin.

If not overturned, this ruling means:

  • Marketplace tax credits and coverage for 10 million people:
  • Medicaid expansion currently covering 15 million people:
  • Protections for more than 130 million people with pre-existing conditions when they buy coverage on their own, including more than 2.4 million Wisconsinites:
  • Allowing kids to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26:
  • Free annual wellness exams:
  • Ban on annual and lifetime limits:
  • Ban on insurance discrimination against women:
  • Contraception with no out-of-pocket costs:
  • Limit on out-of-pocket costs:
  • Requirement that insurance companies cover essential benefits like prescription drugs, maternity care, and hospitalization:
  • Improvements to Medicare, including reduced costs for prescription drugs:
  • Closed Medicare prescription drug donut hole:
  • Rules to hold insurance companies accountable:
  • Small business tax credits:

 ###

Wisconsin Governor Fights Back Republicans Attempts To Weaken Protections For Pre-existing Conditions

Washington DC —  Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate are attempting to pass new legislation that falsely claims to ensure protections for people with pre-existing conditions continue, despite their efforts to invalidate them in federal court. Leslie Dach, chair of Protect Our Care issued the following statement in response:

“Republicans efforts in Wisconsin to push a bill that allows lifetime limits and annual caps on health care coverage is a travesty. Calling this bill any sort of ‘protection’ for people with pre-existing conditions is a fraud. Governor Evers rightly pledged to fully defend his constituents who have pre-existing conditions by vowing to oppose any legislation that rolls back protections for Wisconsinites. Let’s be clear: AB 1 would roll back the clock on vital protections and take Wisconsin back to the days where insurance companies could write the rules.”

BACKGROUND:

What Policies Would Actually Ensure Pre-existing Conditions Are Protected?

  1. Guaranteed Issue and Community Rating: Forbids insurance companies from denying coverage based on health status or charging more.
  2. Essential Health Benefits: Required coverage benefits that help consumers with common health needs and prevent insurers from cutting benefits to lower costs.
  3. Prohibitions On Lifetime And Annual Limits: Prevents insurance companies from saying a consumer has maxed out their benefits in a given year.
  4. Prohibitions On Pre-existing Condition Exclusions: Insurance companies must not be able to sell coverage that can exclude coverage for certain conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, or asthma.

WISCONSIN REPUBLICANS’ BILL FAILS THIS TEST

The language of the bill does nothing to prevent insurance companies from reinstating annual and lifetime limits that insurers use to restrict the amount of coverage someone can use.

The bill does not preserve the Affordable Care Act’s essential health benefits, essentially allowing insurers to sell plans exempt from covering basic services like maternity care, hospitalization, and prescription drugs.

Absent these protections, an insurance company could sell coverage to a cancer patient but refuse to cover their hospitalization or prescription drugs and drop their coverage once they reach their lifetime limit.

The bill does nothing to withdraw Wisconsin’s support for the Texas lawsuit that would eliminate the Affordable Care Act and its current protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

 

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 Beware: Trump Administration Approves Walker’s Restrictive Medicaid Waiver

Washington DC – Today CMS approved Wisconsin’s plan to dramatically restrict Medicaid enrollment by taking coverage away from people who do not meet new burdensome work requirements or who cannot afford to pay new burdensome premiums. In response to the announcement, Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement:

“Let’s be clear: At a time when Scott Walker is in the political fight of his career — promising over and over again that he’ll protect people with pre-existing conditions — here he is teaming up with Donald Trump to rip health care away from the families who need it the most. Wisconsinites, the vast majority of whom want to ensure people with pre-existing conditions get the coverage they need, must judge Scott Walker by what he does, not what he says. Because despite all his recent talk about protecting people, all he really does is use his power as Governor to put barriers between the hardworking people in his state and the care and coverage they need.”

BACKGROUND

MEDICAID IS A LIFELINE FOR…

…CHILDREN & FAMILIES

  • Nearly 36 Million Children Are Enrolled In Medicaid And CHIP. Roughly 35.7 million children in the United States are enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
  • 38 Percent Of Children In America Are Covered By Medicaid. Nationally, nearly 2 in 5, or 38% of children in America have health insurance through Medicaid.
  • 49 Percent Of Births Are Covered By Medicaid.
  • 17 Percent of Parents Have Health Insurance Through Medicaid.
  • In 2010, Medicaid Kept 2.6 Million Americans Out Of Poverty.

…PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

  • Nearly 8.7 million adults enrolled in Medicaid have a disability. Of this group, only 43 percent qualify for social security income.

…SENIORS

  • More than 6.9 million American seniors have Medicaid coverage. 6,920,200 seniors, age 65 and older, are enrolled in Medicaid.
  • Medicaid funds 53 percent of long-term care nationwide. As seniors age, long-term care services become more and more vital, serving half of seniors over age 75 and three in four seniors over age 85.
  • Medicaid covers 6 in 10 nursing home residents. The average annual cost of nursing home care is $82,000 — nearly three times most seniors’ annual income.

…PEOPLE SUFFERING FROM OPIOID USE DISORDER

  • In 2014, Medicaid paid for 25 percent of all addiction treatment nationwide.

IN STATES WHERE SIMILAR RULES HAVE TAKEN EFFECT, THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE HAVE LOST CARE

  • Early results in Arkansas confirm that Medicaid work requirements are fundamentally bureaucratic hurdles, threatening access to health coverage for thousands across the state. “The early results suggest that the incentives may not work the way officials had hoped. Arkansas officials, trying to minimize coverage losses, effectively exempted two-thirds of the eligible people from having to report work hours. Of the remaining third — about 20,000 people — 16,000 didn’t report qualifying activities to the state. Only 1,200 people, about 2 percent of those eligible for the requirement, told the state they had done enough of the required activities in August, according to state figures.” [New York Times, 9/24/18]
  • This summer, a federal district court blocked Kentucky from imposing similar rules for the negative effects it would have on Kentuckians. Said the court in its ruling, “[Secretary Azar] never adequately considered whether Kentucky HEALTH would in fact help the state furnish medical assistance to its citizens, a central objective of Medicaid. This signal omission renders his determination arbitrary and capricious. The Court, consequently, will vacate the approval of Kentucky’s project and remand the matter to HHS for further review.”
  • In Indiana, 25,000 people with health insurance through Medicaid were dropped from coverage because they were unable to pay their premiums. The Washington Post reported, “About 25,000 adults were disenrolled from the program between its start in 2015 and October 2017 for failure to pay their premiums, according to state reports. Yet, state officials estimate that based on surveys of recipients, about half of those who were disenrolled found another source of coverage, most often through a job…In addition to those who were disenrolled, another 46,000 adults who signed up for Medicaid during 2016 and 2017 were not accepted because they did not pay their initial premium, the state reported.”

TAKING AWAY SOMEONE’S HEALTH CARE DOES NOT HELP THEM TO WORK

  • Evidence suggests that such work requirements hurt, rather than help enrollees’ ability to find work. A study of Michigan’s Medicaid “illustrates the functional barriers to work that Medicaid beneficiaries face, and many of them result from physical and mental health challenges. This suggests to us that taking away their health coverage means that they are less likely to find work – not more so…a stable source of health coverage such as Medicaid is likely to assist people with their chronic mental and physical health conditions so that they are better able to seek employment.” In both Ohio and Michigan, having access to health care made it easier for the unemployed to find work: “majorities said that gaining health coverage has helped them look for work or remain employed. Losing coverage — and, with it, access to mental health treatment, medication to manage chronic conditions, or other important care — could have the perverse result of impeding future employment.

WORK REQUIREMENTS ADD ADMINISTRATIVE HURDLES, MAKING IT HARDER FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE ELIGIBLE FOR CARE TO GET IT

  • Requiring People On Medicaid To Prove They Are Working Adds An Administrative Burden That Is Hardest On Low-Income Americans. “[Administrative hurdles] may be especially daunting for the poor, who tend to have less stable work schedules and less access to resources that can simplify compliance: reliable transportation, a bank account, internet access.  There is also a lot of research about the Medicaid program, specifically, that shows that sign-ups fall when states make their program more complicated.” [New York Times, 1/18/18]
  • Documentation Requirements Increase The Chances That People Will Lose Care, Simply Because They Have Trouble Navigating The Process. “There is a real risk of eligible people losing coverage due to their inability to navigate these processes, miscommunication, or other breakdowns in the administrative process. People with disabilities may have challenges navigating the system to obtain an exemption for which they qualify and end up losing coverage.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 1/16/18]

THE VAST MAJORITY OF  PEOPLE WITH MEDICAID COVERAGE WHO WHO CAN WORK ARE WORKING

  • 60 percent of nondisabled people with health coverage through Medicaid have a job and are working, including 42 percent working full-time.
  • 51 percent of working adult Medicaid enrollees have full-time jobs year-round, but their salaries are still low enough to qualify for Medicaid coverage or have Medicaid because their employers do not offer insurance.  
  • Nearly 80 percent of nondisabled people with Medicaid coverage live in a family where at least one person is working, including 64 percent working full-time. The other adult family member may not be working because they have caregiving or other responsibilities at home.
  • A state by state breakdown can be found HERE

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.

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

State Sen. LaTonya Johnson speaks in Milwaukee.

WISCONSIN – Today, Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour arrived in Wisconsin to call attention to the ongoing Republican war on health care. Joined by State Senators Chris Larson and LaTonya Johnson, State Representative Amanda Stuck, Assistant District Attorney Beau Liegeois, and cancer survivor Laura Packard, events in Milwaukee and Green Bay highlighted the actions Republicans are trying to harm Wisconsinites’ care and called on Attorney General Brad Schimel to work instead to protect our care.

“Not having health care is something that I know all too well. I didn’t have health care before being elected to the state legislature,” said LaTonya Johnson. “Six months after being sworn in, I was diagnosed with a tumor. Rather than being distraught about my medical diagnosis, I remember being so overly excited because I had health care – because had that happened six months earlier, I wouldn’t have gone to the doctor to find out what was wrong because I could not afford one more medical bill.

“Our Republican colleagues have done just about everything they can to sabotage the Affordable Care Act… It is time that we say enough is enough.”

State Senator Johnson’s comments were echoed by State Senator Larson and State Representative Stuck.

“Everyone has a health care story,” said Sen. Larson, who explained his inability to get coverage as a young man with asthma and the constant attacks Republicans have undertaken on those with pre-existing conditions. “Now that we’ve called them out on eliminating the vital protection that is ensuring people with pre-existing conditions get covered, now they’re saying, We’ll catch you, trust us. I don’t know about you, but I for one sure as hell don’t believe them, and I’m not willing to bet my life, my family’s life, my constituents’ life or the lives of my Wisconsin neighbors on it. That’s why we’re here. Unlike Attorney General Schimel and State Senator Vukmir, we want to make sure that no Wisconsinite ever has to lie in bed worrying about their health care and what tomorrow might bring.”

State Rep. Amanda Stuck speaks in front of Care Force One in Green Bay.

“This bill was a savior for so many people and made a difference in so many lives,” said Rep. Stuck about the ACA. “I’ve never had one constituent write or call me to say, Please take away my health care… We should be moving forward, looking at how we can cover more people, not going back in time.”

The stakes of the bus tour 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.”

State Senators Johnson and Larson, State Representative Stuck, and Packard were joined by Robert Kraig, executive director of Citizen Action Wisconsin, who discussed the difficulties in obtaining care before the ACA was signed into law; Scott Trindl, who spoke of living with a pre-existing and what would happen if the lawsuit Attorney General Schimel is on seeking to overturn the law succeeds; and Assistant District Attorney Beau Liegeois, who spoke about the Republican health care sabotage campaign and what health repeal would mean for Wisconsinites.

At today’s events, Wisconsin 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.
  • 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.

 

Tomorrow, “Care Force One” will head to Madison, where Protect Our Care will be joined by Mayor Paul Soglin, former State Representative Mandela Barnes, and State Representative Christine Taylor. For more information, please visit protectourcarebustour.com.

Mike Pence Confirms GOP Still Gunning for Americans’ Health Care

Vice President Follows Republican Senators In Calling for Total Repeal

Washington, D.C. – Tonight in Wisconsin, Vice President Mike Pence told reporters that, “We made an effort to fully repeal and replace Obamacare. And we’ll continue. With Leah Vukmir in the Senate, we’ll go back to that,” joining the list of Republicans this week calling yet again for repeal.

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

“Tonight, Vice President Pence reminded everyone of Republicans’ real goal: attacking the health care of tens of millions of Americans. If Mike Pence and the GOP have their way, protections for people with pre-existing conditions would be stripped overnight; lifetime limits would once again be the norm; and women and seniors would see gender and age taxes applied to their care. The contrast couldn’t be more clear: the same week Tammy Baldwin introduces legislation to stop junk plans and maintain the protections Americans rely on, the Vice President doubles down on the Republican war on health care.”

WHO CALLED FOR REPEAL THIS WEEK?

Vice President Mike Pence: “We Made An Effort To Fully Repeal And Replace Obamacare. And We’ll Continue.” “We made an effort to fully repeal and replace Obamacare. And we’ll continue. With Leah Vukmir in the Senate, we’ll go back to that.” [Twitter, 8/30/18]

Senator John Thune (R-SD): “It Would Be Nice To Have Members Who Enable Us To Pass [Repeal].” “‘It would be nice to have members who enable us to pass it,’” Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (S.D.) said when asked about the possibility of ObamaCare repeal legislation coming up for a future vote.” [The Hill, 8/29/18]

Senator David Perdue (R-GA): “I’d Love To Have Somebody Take Care Of [Repeal].” “‘I’d love to have somebody to take care of that,’ Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) said of repealing ObamaCare.” [The Hill, 8/29/18]

Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI): Hopes Arizona’s Next Senator Will Favor Repeal. “Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said he hopes the next senator from Arizona will be a ‘strong ally’ who ‘recognizes that ObamaCare is not a proper solution.’” [The Hill, 8/29/18]

Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA): “I Want Somebody Who Is For Affordable Health Care, And Right Now Obamacare Is Not Affordable, Nor Is Health Care.” “Cassidy said he doesn’t know whether the Senate will move another comprehensive health-care reform package, but he expects Republican leaders will push ‘piecemeal efforts to make affordable once more that which has not been affordable since ObamaCare passed.’ … ‘I want somebody who is for affordable health care, and right now ObamaCare is not affordable, nor is health care, which is a direct result of ObamaCare,’ Cassidy said.” [The Hill, 8/29/18]

Protect Our Care Launches 130 Million Strong Month of Action

Washington, D.C. – The Protect Our Care coalition today launches “130 Million Strong Month of Action,” a campaign to warn Americans about escalating Republican attacks on Affordable Care Act-guaranteed protections for over 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions. As the Trump Department of Justice asks the courts to take away these protections, the campaign will leverage earned and paid media as well as grassroots advocacy to highlight the true cost of letting insurance companies bring back discrimination.

“There are over 130 million Americans out there with pre-existing conditions who deserve to know that Republicans are trying to let insurance companies take away their coverage,” said Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse. “The Trump Department of Justice just declared war on people who have a history of diabetes, asthma, or cancer. This month, our coalition of health care advocates will be conducting an aggressive information campaign to make sure people know what’s at stake.”

The campaign launches this morning with a new digital ad targeted to 13 states: Alaska, Arizona, Indiana, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Watch Digital Ad

Protect Our Care is also rolling out 51 fact sheets this morning highlighting the impact residents would face in each state if the Trump Administration wins its case and takes away pre-existing condition protections, and dozens of events are set to take place across the country between now and Independence Day.

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.