A MacIver Perspective | October 19, 2017
By Bill Osmulski
Last week the country realized Obamacare cannot survive unless the president violates the US Constitution, and the current president is not willing to do that.
Monthly premiums on the Obamacare Exchanges are simply unaffordable, and every year the prices get higher. In Wisconsin, the average premium on the exchange this year is $514. That’s a 93% increase from four years ago. Next year it’s expected to increase another 36%.
There are also few choices on the exchanges. Every year more insurance providers leave. Across the country, a total of 73 providers out of 298 dropped out of the exchanges last year . About a third of all the counties in the country only have one provider to choose from. The less competition, the higher the prices climb.
In order to get people to use the exchanges, the Affordable Care Act promised to subsidize the premiums. However, the original Obamacare law passed by Democrats in Congress did not actually appropriate any money for those subsidies. According to the Constitution, only Congress can appropriate money, but that didn’t stop President Obama from ordering the Treasury to start paying the premiums in 2014. The Court said that was unconstitutional, but it didn’t stop Obama from continuing the subsidies. President Trump announced last Thursday he will not continue that unconstitutional practice.
Everyone knows without the subsidies, the Obamacare exchanges are finished. And without the exchanges, Obamacare is finished. Democrats in Wisconsin attacked Trump mercilessly, and then admitted Obamacare was never really going to work in the first place.
“No one ever said the Affordable Care Act was perfect, but it was only a good first step,” Citizen Action of Wisconsin Executive Director Robert Kraig told the media during a conference call on Friday.
“The critique of the Affordable Care Act has not necessarily been off-base when made by critics leading up to the 2016 election and beyond,” Rep. Eric Genrich (D-Green Bay) stated on that same call.
Despite the admitted failure of Obamacare, liberals in Wisconsin continue to demonstrate their commitment to a universal, government-provided, taxpayer-funded healthcare system. Their latest attempt: “BadgerCare For All.”
The plan would supposedly let anyone buy a BadgerCare Plus policy at “full price.” Genrich, who wrote the Assembly version of the bill (with Citizen Action’s help), says the policies are more affordable than those on the Obamacare exchanges and it won’t cost the state a dime. The plan may not be unconstitutional, but it does completely ignore the laws of economics.
Even though Democrats claim consumers would be paying full-price for the cost of their coverage, providers would receive the same miniscule reimbursement rate they get for any Medicaid patient. In Wisconsin, Medicaid only reimburses about half the cost for primary care, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. And so, as the number of patients paying with Medicaid increases, the more pressure doctors will face to stop accepting Medicaid patients.
The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau was just as direct when it warned Genrich about his plan.
“BadgerCare Plus costs are influenced by provider reimbursement rates paid under the program. These reimbursement rates are generally well below rates paid by commercial health care plans, which likely has the effect of restricting the number of medical providers who are willing to participate in the program, as well as the extent of their participation. The expansion of the number of persons who receive coverage under the buy-in proposal could exacerbate provider access problems,” the June 2nd memo reads.
Considering that Medicaid currently serves the most vulnerable members of our society, it is curious how quickly the left is willing to expose them to even greater hardship when they are looking to score political points.
Contrary to liberal claims, the LFB memo also suggests that “BadgerCare For All,” will lead to greater costs for the state. That’s because the only way to prevent a stampede of providers abandoning Medicaid is to increase the reimbursement rate.
“Any such increase would increase the cost associated with providing coverage and also increase the amount of the premiums paid for coverage,” the memo states.
There was one last piece of bad news for Genrich and Citizen Action. “A commercial insurer is required, under state insurance regulations, to maintain a reserve fund to ensure that the company has sufficient financial capacity to pay claims in the event that premium revenue is insufficient. While a BadgerCare Plus buy-in program would not be subject to these regulations, establishing a reserve would be prudent policy,” the memo concluded. That means even more potential cost to the state.
The liberals pushing “BadgerCare For All,” have had that Fiscal Bureau memo for over four months. It doesn’t support their agenda, and so they’ve completely ignored it – just like they’re willing to ignore the law, the Constitution, the principles of economics, and the truly needy.