WHA Board Officers Send Delegation Letter on ACA

JFC Co-Chairs Darling, Nygren urge Congress to provide Medicaid funding equity

March 03, 2017

In the past week, several important communications regarding changes to the Affordable Care Act have been delivered to members of the Wisconsin Delegation. Those letters were sent by officers of the Wisconsin Hospital Association’s (WHA) Board of Directors and by the co-chairs of the State Legislature’s budget-writing committee, the Joint Finance Committee. Both letters reiterate the fundamental need to provide states like Wisconsin with equity as well as protect important coverage gains for lower-income individuals. 

“With Congress deliberating the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we are united around two critical issues—achieving equitable Medicaid funding for Wisconsin and preserving our state’s coverage gains,” WHA Board officers Mike Wallace (Fort HealthCare), Catherine Jacobson (Froedtert Health), Robert Van Meeteren (Reedsburg Area Medical Center) and Eric Borgerding (WHA) wrote in their February 27 letter to the Wisconsin Delegation. 

“….some 130,000 people in poverty, the vast majority of whom were previously uninsured, were enrolled in Wisconsin’s Medicaid program…Despite this unequivocal expansion of Medicaid, Wisconsin did not meet the Obama Administration’s definition of ‘Medicaid expansion,’ nor did we receive the enhanced federal funding that came with it,” the letter continued. 

“Insist that our state, which has now targeted and extended the Medicaid safety net to those in greatest need, be treated fairly by making Wisconsin’s expansion population eligible for the same federal funding rate as those states that adopted the ACA version of expansion.”

Secondly, the WHA Board officer letter elaborated on the 225,000 individuals who have been able to access affordable coverage on the ACA’s federal exchange. 

“Part and parcel to Wisconsin’s unique and successful approach to coverage expansion is helping connect individuals above 100 percent FPL to affordable coverage on the federal exchange. Wisconsin’s uninsured rate has plummeted since 2014, the result of our approach to Medicaid expansion and robust use of subsidized coverage on the exchange. Of the 225,000 Wisconsinites who have gained coverage on the exchange, 85 percent have benefitted from its income-based premium subsidies. We are very concerned that many of these people will lose coverage if these subsidies go away….”

In another ACA-related letter sent February 24 to the Wisconsin Delegation, Joint Finance Committee Co-Chairs Sen. Alberta Darling and Rep. John Nygren pointed out the impact Congressional decisions will have on the state budget and state taxpayers.

“In 2012, President Obama presented Wisconsin with a false choice of either expanding Medicaid or forgoing roughly $280 million per year. We co-chaired the state’s budget committee when Governor Walker proposed striking our own path and making Wisconsin’s Medicaid program a safety net for those in greatest need.” 

The “Wisconsin-focused approach” approved by Walker and the State Legislature at that time provided Medicaid coverage to all individuals living “in poverty”—with incomes below 100 percent of the federal poverty level—and resulted in some 130,000 individuals newly having access to Medicaid.

“While other states receive full federal funding for their Medicaid expansion, Wisconsin received no additional funding,” continued co-chairs Darling and Nygren in their letter. “You have an opportunity to correct this flawed decision by the Obama Administration. As you begin to discuss Medicaid block grants and per-capita limits, we ask that you take a serious look at the inequity in Medicaid funding.” 

“We have done our part in Madison; now we need you to be our advocates in Washington, D.C.,” wrote the co-chairs. 

Read the WHA Board Officer letter here
Read the Darling/Nygren letter here.

Governor Scott Walker in the News on ACA
Over the past few days, Gov. Walker has been in the news on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, including making the points specific to the Medicaid program:

In an article written by Emily Cadei of Newsweek (2/24/17)
“’You can’t cut Medicaid, there’s just no way about it,’ Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said on Friday, reflecting the reality a lot of top state executives are facing when it comes to the pending health care overhaul in Congress.”

“Walker said Friday he supports giving states more flexibility in terms of Medicaid spending, but he was lukewarm about the idea of block grants. ‘To me, you could have something even short of that,’ he said, ‘as long as it doesn’t set states up for failure.’ That’s a huge caveat.”

In an interview with Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace as reported on by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Annysa Johnson (02-26-17)
“Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker touted the state’s program for health insurance coverage for the poor …calling it ‘a model of exactly what will happen’ under plans to replace Obamacare.”

Remarks by President Donald Trump at the National Governor’s Association
“We’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare, and get states the flexibility that they need to make the end result really, really good for them. A very complicated issue….And I spent a lot of time with Governor Walker and Governor Rick Scott the other day—we were talking about it. They’re really very expert on the subject, and I want to thank them.”

This story originally appeared in the March 03, 2017 edition of WHA Newsletter