WHA Board Subcommittee on Health Care Reform Discusses WHA Priorities

March 03, 2017

On February 27, the WHA Board Subcommittee on Health Care Reform met to discuss the latest developments in Washington and Wisconsin on health care reform and help set WHA’s priorities on ACA repeal and replace and Medicaid. 

“There is too much at stake to sit back and watch what happens,” said Mike Wallace, CEO of Fort Healthcare and the Subcommittee’s chair. “There is much uncertainty in the market today, and we are fortunate WHA has been a leader in providing clarity and is seen as a trusted, go-to source of information.” 

As Congress and the President move toward repealing and replacing the ACA, WHA Board Chair Cathy Jacobson, president/CEO of Froedtert Health, appointed the Subcommittee earlier this year. The group is comprised of WHA Board members from across the state. 

At the meeting, Joanne Alig, WHA senior vice president for policy and research, described the latest policy discussions at the national level, providing up-to-the-minute information about the draft House bill and Republican Governor’s Association discussions that were reported in the news late last week. Alig described the latest considerations for Medicaid reform as well as details about potential policies being floated to help stabilize the insurance markets. 

Subcommittee members noted that for Medicaid, whether through a block grant or per enrollee cap approach, establishing base funding is critical for Wisconsin. Wisconsin did not receive enhanced federal funding for its Medicaid expansion for childless adults with income below the poverty line, so base funding could be lower in a state like Wisconsin even though the state expanded coverage. The need to ensure that elderly and disabled populations are funded at an adequate level was also noted, in particular given the cost for that beneficiary group and the aging population in Wisconsin. 

Further, the Subcommittee discussed the idea of replacing the current subsidies or tax credits for purchasing coverage that are based on income. The House draft bill from late last week would include refundable tax credits based on age, not income. Subcommittee members expressed concern that changes from income to age-based tax credits could negatively impact states like Wisconsin that relied on the subsidies to provide coverage for their low-income populations. 

Importantly, the group also discussed the significant changes that have been occurring in health care since even before the ACA was enacted. Moving toward quality and value in health care is still a high priority for WHA members and must continue to be top of mind as changes are being contemplated. 

The Subcommittee helped further clarify and identify priorities for WHA moving forward, and will continue to meet in the weeks and months ahead as necessary.

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