Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers announced Monday a new “Health Care Coverage Partnership” between the Department of Health Services and the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance called the “Health Care Coverage Partnership.” While the partnership is supposed to promote enrollment in health insurance through the federal insurance exchange, it’s also intended to promote expansion of Medicaid coverage in Wisconsin.
“Not only will expanding Medicaid extend health care coverage to 82,000 Wisconsinites, but it will also strengthen the individual health insurance market,” said Insurance Commissioner Mark Afable in a release from the Evers Administration.
Evers’ announcement drew criticism from the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Leadership (WILL).
“Any decision to expand Medicaid requires approval by the legislature,” said CJ Szafir, Executive Vice President for WILL. “WILL intends to monitor the administration’s actions to ensure that they comply with the law and the state constitution.”
Szafir added that Wisconsin doesn’t need to expand Medicaid and that it will only be counter-productive. “It is unfortunate that the Evers administration is obsessively pursuing Medicaid expansion when Wisconsin has no coverage gap, one of the lowest rates of uninsured, and the cost of the expansion will raise the cost of care for those with private insurance,” Szafir said.
WILL released a study earlier this year that showed that, contrary to Afable’s statement, expanding Medicaid in Wisconsin will actually hurt the private insurance market. WILL has also released a list of seven reforms that will lower the cost of health care and increase access.
With Obamacare, states could expand Medicaid to cover 138 percent of the federal poverty line and receive 90 percent reimbursement from the federal government. However, Governor Scott Walker and the legislature rejected the federal money and instead covered 100 percent of those under the federal poverty line. Those above the federal poverty line are directed to the federal health insurance exchange where they may be eligible for federal subsidy for private health care insurance.
Despite the increased cost overall to the taxpayer, more federal spending will offset the “savings” to the state, Democrats have been demanding Wisconsin expand Medicaid. Many Democrats see the expansion as a step towards “Medicare for All,” a plan which would cost the federal government $28-$32 trillion over the next decade.
According to the Kaiser Foundation, Wisconsin is the only state rejecting the federal money for Medicaid expansion with no coverage gap, meaning that health care coverage is available to everyone either through the private health care market, through the health insurance exchange, or through Medicare and Medicaid.