WHA Weighs in on Health Reform and the Future of Medicaid at WHN Conference

Borgerding: "Allowing Obamacare to implode…is failure in and of itself."

July 21, 2017

At a panel discussion July 19 in Madison, participants shared their reactions to the most recent Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Among those weighing in was WHA President/CEO Eric Borgerding.

"Health care reform is not dead. Allowing Obamacare to implode and fail is really failure in and of itself," Borgerding said in response to a question from Wisconsin Health News (WHN) Editor Tim Stumm. "I hope there’s critical mass enough in Washington to realize that and move forward with something."

Joining Borgerding on the panel were State Medicaid Director Michael Heifetz; Veronica Gunn, MD, vice president of health and payment innovation, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin; and Jon Peacock, research director, Kids Forward. WHN Editor Tim Stumm served as moderator.

Stating that the ACA must be repaired before it is repealed, Borgerding said any solution out of Washington must preserve the successful Wisconsin Medicaid expansion model, especially for those who are now covered.

If the goal of health reform is preserving coverage, according to Heifitz, then Wisconsin has a model that could be exported to other states that covers those in poverty and moves those above poverty into the exchange with a subsidy. He noted Gov. Scott Walker has openly expressed his concerns about Medicaid funding inequity between expansion and nonexpansion states.

"We are absolutely being penalized for the great expansion we did do," Borgerding said. "Wisconsin really needs to rethink not just expansion but really aggressively think about how do we achieve equity for the expansion that we did do."

Peacock said the problem with the current federal Medicaid proposals being floated in Washington is they lock in Wisconsin’s historic low reimbursement rates; the second lowest Medicaid rates in the country.

If reform is "dead," Borgerding said it brings the issue of Medicaid funding back to the states, while the BCRA and AHCA took those decisions away from the states.

"Medicaid funding is a lynchpin key issue moving forward," according to Borgerding. He said funding disparities between expansion and non-expansion states was a key factor that unraveled the push for health reform. (Read more in the July 14 issue of The Valued Voice)

Lost in the discussion is the importance of Medicaid to children, according to Gunn, who is a pediatric care provider. More than half the births in Wisconsin are covered by the Medicaid program, and while children comprise almost 43 percent of the Medicaid population, they account for only 19 percent of the cost.

"We need to achieve a healthier population…we have to find ways to control costs, but we cannot do so at the expense of our kid’s health and our future leaders," Gunn said.

Watch the full panel discussion on WisconsinEye at: www.wiseye.org/Video-Archive/Event-Detail/evhdid/11711

This story originally appeared in the July 21, 2017 edition of WHA Newsletter