New Legislator Profile: Rep. David Crowley (D-Milwaukee)

March 17, 2017

Rep. David Crowley believes Wisconsin should do everything possible to improve Medicaid rates.

"There are dark clouds looming with the ACA and Medicaid block grants, but I think it is important to invest in Medicaid and do everything to bring money from the federal government," Crowley said. "This state is getting older. I am fearful about block grants, and our taxes could soar. We need to increase Medicaid payments, but we also need to make sure we do something to raise the amount of money in the disproportionate share hospital (DSH) program."

Crowley said it is extremely important that hospitals are "not on the losing end of this."

"If we want people to thrive in these communities, we need to do everything we can to support them and raise the rates to hospitals," he added.

Crowley is passionate about his community, and he is a proud and committed supporter of his constituents. He credits his family and community for inspiring him to pursue public office. But his knowledge of the issues in his district, located on the northwest side of Milwaukee, were learned growing up the inner city. It also served as his inspiration and drive to advocate for the people of the community to assure them they have a voice in Madison.

"This community saved my life. When I was 17 years old, I was introduced to ‘Urban Underground,’ and I learned about the issues facing Milwaukee’s youth," Crowley said. "I never understood the social and economic barriers people face when they want to go to college. That organization showed me I can be a product of my environment, but I can choose the type of person that I want to be."

Crowley defines "health" more broadly than most. "It is extremely important to rebuilding a community to look at physical health, but it goes deeper. It is a job and education," according to Crowley. "The way the hospitals are involved, the level of customer service you give is phenomenal. These are people who care for you. You are hiring navigators who are going out to the underserved communities and talking to them about health and how to find employment. It creates a healthier community and economy and reduces the cost the state has to pay."

"Hospitals are not just caring for those who are sick, but they are caring for those who need to feel empowered," he added. "We need to make sure that we keep the hospitals that are serving the most underserved populations—the poorest of the poor. That is why it is incredibly important that we put more money into DSH to make sure we don’t hurt those hospitals that are being good stewards."

Crowley said he strongly supports the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership and health systems that have adopted unique "Transition in Care" programs that help coordinate care for Medicaid patients. Unfortunately, Medicaid does not recognize this role for providers and does not provide payment to providers for conducting these activities.

"If this will reduce Medicaid costs, it is extremely important because a small population can incur a majority of the costs," he said. "We need to make sure we can reduce the costs and make the dollars available to more people who need services."

Crowley believes that protecting access to health care creates a pathway to a more prosperous future.

"It is important that elected officials understand that health is wealth. If you want to be successful and move forward, you have to invest in health," according to Crowley. "These are jobs that can’t be sent overseas. We need to invest in people here. It presents an opportunity to invest in new technology and to meet people’s health care needs. It is not about putting more in hospitals’ pockets, but it is about continuing to have the quality of care we have already and ensure that everyone has access to the same quality of care and coverage."

This story originally appeared in the March 17, 2017 edition of WHA Newsletter