Our Wisconsin: Health Care

February 21, 2019

By Ola Lisowski

Welcome back to Our Wisconsin.

From the Affordable Care Act to the rise of Direct Primary Care, the health care landscape is rapidly changing across the state and country. The third scorecard in the “Our Wisconsin” series tracks how those changes have played out in the Badger State.

As fiscal watchdogs, we always strive to keep an eye on state spending. While Wisconsin has seen Medicaid enrollment fall – diverging from the national trend – spending has dramatically increased. The sheer billions of dollars spent in this industry have a massive impact on the economy, on the welfare of our state, and the size of our government. Ultimately, though, the end goal of all health spending is the wellbeing of our people. In the light of the state’s growth in this arena, have health outcomes improved? That is what we strive to answer with this scorecard.

Perhaps the most positive metric we examine in this scorecard is that of teenage pregnancy. In just five years, births to women aged 15 to 19 fell by 35 percent. That is, by all accounts, a remarkable success. At the same time, even as more Wisconsinites have access to health insurance, more people are going to the emergency room for injuries. There are more doctors in our population, but life expectancy and overall births rates have begun slowly declining. Still, life expectancy in our state is higher than the nation’s average, and higher than in many other parts of the world.

Recently, Gov. Tony Evers put forth a proposal to legalize medical marijuana in Wisconsin. Thirty states and the District of Columbia have done so, arguing that the move could help health outcomes and drive down opioid addiction. Should the governor’s proposal pass, we will add related metrics to this scorecard in the future.

We hope our scorecards will keep the debate and conversation grounded in reality. We hope our scorecards will help you cut through the fog of hyperbole and rhetoric. We hope these scorecards help you decide for yourself – what is the true state of our great state?

Don’t take Gov. Evers’ word for it, or any other politician for that matter. Don’t let the media tell you what you should think. Decide for yourself. Stay tuned for more editions in the weeks to come, before Gov. Evers releases his first budget plan.

Forward, Wisconsin.

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