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July 3, 2017

Senate Health Plan Erases Wisconsin Gains in Insurance Coverage

Over the past few years, the number of uninsured Wisconsinites has been significantly reduced. However, the positive downward trend is likely to be reversed under the Senate’s proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and make huge cuts to the Medicaid program.  A new study from the Urban Institute finds that in Wisconsin, under the “Better Care and Reconciliation Act (BCRA),” the uninsured rate will increase by 286,000 people by 2022.

  • 60,000 children would become uninsured, increasing the uninsured rate for children from 4.4 percent to 8.7 percent, an enormous step backwards for Wisconsin, which has long been a leader in insuring children, with an uninsured rate below 6% for many years.
  • 226,000 non-elderly adults would lose insurance coverage, raising the uninsured rate from 9.7 percent to 16.3 percent, sending us way beyond pre-ACA uninsured rates.

Urban Institute Report_children and parents uninsured-02The new analysis also breaks out loss of insurance coverage by insurance type.  As the bar graph below shows, people with all types of insurance coverage, employer, non-group, and Medicaid will see losses in coverage by 2022. Wisconsin, which has a higher percentage of people in the ACA marketplace than other states, will see a significant drop in non-group coverage, in part because WI rolled back BadgerCare eligibility for parents to 100% FPL.Urban Institute Report_Insurance Coverage Losses_NEW-01

In addition to coverage losses, the study also finds that by 2022, the BCRA would cut total federal spending in Wisconsin, for both premium and cost-sharing subsidies under the marketplace and for Medicaid and CHIP, by $1.2 billion. These cuts will mean fewer people will have access to Medicaid, Wisconsin will be forced to cut the care to our most vulnerable, or significantly raise taxes to pay for the increased costs that the federal government shifts to the state.

After Senators committed to greatly improving the very unpopular House American Health Care Act, Republican Senate leadership met in secret and revealed a bill that is just as damaging as the House bill. Both will significantly reduce the number of children and adults who are uninsured and lead to more people who are unable to access the care they need. Both cut taxes for the corporations and the rich, paying for them with dramatic cuts to Medicaid that states will need to take drastic steps to address. Both were drafted without any public hearings or open committee meetings.

Congress should return from the July 4th recess and work to start from scratch and create a bi-partisan bill that helps to stabilize the marketplace and increases the number of kids and adults who have access to health care.

Sashi Gregory and William Parke-Sutherland