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Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig

Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig

Robert Kraig is Executive Director, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, 221 S. 2nd St., Suite 300, Milwaukee, WI 53204.

Walker’s WEDC Caught Red-Handed

Posted by Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Robert Kraig is Executive Director, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, 221 S. 2nd St.,
User is currently offline
on Monday, 25 July 2016
in Wisconsin

out_sourced_wedcCitizen Action sounded the alarm two years ago on how Walker’s scandal plagued WEDC doles out public money. Walker promised to require corporations taking our job creation dollars to give 30 days notice of any planned outsourcing or downsizing. Now we find they're not even doing that!


MILWAUKEE - When Citizen Action sounded the alarm two years ago that Walker’s scandal plagued Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) doles out public money to corporations engaged in outsourcing jobs, they came up with a non-solution.

Walker’s WEDC promised to require corporations taking our job creation dollars to give 30 days notice of any planned outsourcing or downsizing.

Now, Citizen Action has discovered that Walker is not even doing that! When we filed an open records request WEDC lawyers found ZERO outsourcing notifications--this despite a series of corporations caught red-handed in recent months outsourcing jobs when taking money from WEDC.

Outsourcing can be the issue that turns the 2016 election in our favor, and even forces Scott Walker not to seek re-election, but only if we have the resources to tell voters about it.

If you agree, please make an emergency contribution to Citizen Action’s outsourcing election fund.

Outsourcing is the sleeping giant in the 2016 election because it is the smoking gun of the rigged economy.

The outright support for large corporations outsourcing Wisconsin jobs is political dynamite. The reason Walker’s jobs agency turns a blind eye to outsourcing is that they support it!

Citizen Action played a leading role in forcing votes on bills to cut off public loans, grants, and tax credits to corporations engaged in outsourcing. Shockingly, every Republican legislator voted wrong on the issue!

Wisconsin voters should be outraged about their senators and representatives supporting the outsourcing of their jobs, but only if we have the resources to communicate with them about it during the election.

If you agree, please send an emergency contribution to Citizen Action’s outsourcing election fund.

Sincerely,

Robert Kraig

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Citizen Action Endorses Judge Joe Donald for State Supreme Court

Posted by Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Robert Kraig is Executive Director, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, 221 S. 2nd St.,
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 21 January 2016
in Wisconsin

Joe DonaldMILWAUKEE - Citizen Action of Wisconsin, a statewide membership organization with over 38,000 members, announced today its endorsement of Judge Joe Donald for Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Judge Joe Donald is an extremely experienced jurist. With nearly 20 years presiding over civil and criminal court cases he is by far the most qualified candidate. Throughout the legal community, Judge Donald is highly respected for his command of the law, his fairness, and his common sense approach. Judge Donald will deliver justice for everyone in Wisconsin.

At a time when special interest dominance is eroding public confidence in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, it is critically important that we elect judges who make independent judgments based on the merits of each case. The specter of Supreme Court judges failing to recuse themselves from cases involving parties who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on their behalf has sullied the reputation of Wisconsin’s highest court. That is why Citizen Action of Wisconsin believes we need a Supreme Court Justice like Joe Donald, whose long record of judicial independence is beyond reproach.

Judge Joe Donald is a leader in improving and modernizing our criminal justice system. Wisconsin has the highest incarceration rate for African Americans in America. Judge Donald has been a leader in the creation and development judicial solutions like drug treatment courts, which reduce the mass incarceration of nonviolent offenders and work to address the root causes of drug addiction and poverty. We need this kind of common sense innovation to reduce crime and improve lives at our highest court.

The election of Judge Joe Donald would also be a historic milestone. Judge Donald would be the first African American elected to the Wisconsin State Supreme Court (Former Justice Louis Butler was appointed).

“On behalf of our 38,000 members in every corner of the state, we are proud to recommend Judge Joe Donald for Wisconsin Supreme Court,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “Judge Donald will work to secure justice for everyone in Wisconsin, not just well connected special interests and big campaign contributors. Based on his proven record of judicial integrity, innovation, and impartiality, Judge Donald has earned a place on Wisconsin’s highest court.”

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2016 Wisconsin Health Insurance Cost Ranking Released

Posted by Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Robert Kraig is Executive Director, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, 221 S. 2nd St.,
User is currently offline
on Monday, 21 December 2015
in Wisconsin

healthcare-familyReport finds continuing regional disparities on cost, inflation, and quality. Wisconsin health insurance costs have more than tripled since 2000.


STATEWIDE - Citizen Action of Wisconsin released its 10th Annual Wisconsin Health Insurance Cost Ranking report Monday morning on a statewide media call. A full audio recording of the media call can be downloaded here.

The full report includes 11 charts ranking the cities and regions of Wisconsin on health insurance costs, rate of inflation, and quality, and can be downloaded here.

This year’s report finds wide disparities between higher and lower cost regions of Wisconsin, as well as large differences in the rate of health insurance inflation. There is a 30% variation in the for all types of health insurance for premiums and deductibles between the lowest cost metro area (Madison) and the highest cost area (Milwaukee), which amounts to a difference of $2,221.48 per year for single health coverage.

The magnitude of this gap could have significant economic consequences. The report finds that Wisconsin health insurance premiums for large and medium sized employers have more than tripled since 2000, increasing 216% since the year 2000 statewide, and as much 365% in some areas.

This year’s report also finds significant volatility on in the price for health insurance people buy on their own. There is also a $4,470 gap in annual premiums and deductibles between the highest cost area (Wausau) and the lowest cost (Madison) on the individual market.

The report recommends that policymakers in Madison make controlling health care costs a more central focus. The report notes that making better use of all the tools available under the Affordable Care Act, such as taking enhanced dollars for BadgerCare and implementing more robust health insurance rate review could begin the process of moderating health insurance premiums in Wisconsin. Other reforms which go beyond the Affordable Care Act such as more strictly regulating excessive prescription drug prices and surprise medical bills would also lower consumer costs.

“The striking numbers in this report make it clear that state policymakers need to move beyond the divisive debate over the Affordable Care Act and put a sharp focus on health care costs,” said Robert Kraig, the report lead author and the Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “Wisconsin workers and families will not have full control of their own health care decisions until we get health care costs under control.”

Key Findings: Wisconsin Health Insurance Cost Ranking 2016

  • Wisconsin Health Care Hyperinflation is a Long Term Trend. Wisconsin large group health insurance costs (premiums and deductibles) have more than tripled since the year 2000, increasing 216% statewide, with regional rates of inflation varying between a low of 170% in Madison to highs of 365% in Green Bay, 254% in Oshkosh, 247% in Appleton, and 226% in Milwaukee, for benefits packages that is less generous.

  • Southeastern and Central Wisconsin are Highest Cost Areas, Madison is Lower Cost. According to a new composite measure which combines all types of health insurance, Milwaukee, Racine, Wausau, have the highest costs in Wisconsin while Madison has the lowest.

  • Regional Cost Disparities Persist. There continue to be wide cost variations between higher and lower cost areas of the state. The cost variation is even higher in our composite index for all types of health insurance than they are in the large group market. There is a 30% cost variation between the highest cost metro area (Milwaukee) and the lowest cost metro area (Madison), which amounts to a $2,221.48 difference for a single policy each year.

  • Regional Cost Disparities Are Greatest on the Individual Market. Although there are large regional cost variations for all types of insurance, the biggest disparities are in the individual market. The highest cost areas (Wausau, Stevens Point, Wisconsin Rapids, and Marshfield) are an astounding 69% higher than the lowest cost areas (Madison, Appleton, and Janesville/Beloit). This amounts to a gap of $4,470 per year for individual coverage.

  • Disparities within Regions Suggest Underlying Medical Costs are Not the Only Driver of Insurance Costs. Insurers often claim that their prices merely reflect medical costs. However, there are major variations in relative cost within regions for different types of insurance. This suggest that the numbers measure not only underlying medical costs but also distortions in the insurance market. For example, the Fox Valley has above average insurance rates in large group insurance and well below average rates in the individual and small group markets. Wausau has very high costs for large group and individual market insurance, but relatively low costs in small group. Madison is not nearly as low in the small group market as it is for the other types of insurance. Eau Claire is high in all employer-based insurance, but below average on the individual market.

  • Individual Market Costs Increased Substantially Statewide. There was a 28% increase statewide in premiums and deductibles combined from 2015-2016 .

  • Striking Price Volatility on the Individual Market in a Major Policy Concern. Some metro areas had very large increases in cost from 2015 to 2016 while others actually saw reductions. Individual market prices increased by over 69% in Racine, and 60% in Milwaukee, while declining by over 8% in Madison and Janesville/Beloit. This 79% percent spread in inflation rates between Wisconsin cities is a warning sign that insurance rate setting practices may require greater scrutiny.

  • Price Volatility is also a Concern on the Small Group Market. Although not as severe as the individual market, there were significant disparities in the rate of inflation between Wisconsin metro areas for small employers. While Green Bay and the Fox Valley saw greater than 10% increases, Stevens Point, Wisconsin Rapids, and Marshfield saw cost reductions of over 12%.

  • Cost and Quality are not Correlated. As in past reports, the 2016 report finds that there is no clear correlation between quality and health insurance costs, with some of the low cost areas of the state having higher quality insurance plans and some higher costs areas having lower quality plans.

Additional data and 11 ranking charts ranking each metro area in Wisconsin are available in the full report which can be downloaded here.

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New Economic Messaging Webinar Available

Posted by Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Robert Kraig is Executive Director, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, 221 S. 2nd St.,
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 08 October 2015
in Wisconsin

walker-wedcMILWAUKEE - I am sure you are concerned as I am about the WEDC disaster and more broadly declining economic opportunity in Wisconsin.

I am writing to personally invite you to a special webinar to unveil Citizen Action of Wisconsin's new Economic Opportunity Agenda.

As I wrote recently in a column in the Capital Times: If we focus exclusively on the WEDC train wreck, we miss a more fundamental challenge: the lack of any serious strategy to reverse the ongoing decline of economic opportunity for working families in Wisconsin. The WEDC crackup is an opening to take a step back and consider the scope of Wisconsin’s economic challenges and solutions of the scale needed to put us back on the road to shared prosperity.

In the webinar I will discuss the depth of Wisconsin's economic crisis, and a bold new strategy to challenge the rigging of the economic system and to use our democracy to expand the middle class once again.

I hope you will join me for this critically important conversation. You can join us either by phone or webinar. We will host this event TWICE on Wednesday October 14th, once at noon and again at 6pm. Join whichever you can.

Click here to RSVP or learn more about the Wednesday Oct 14 noon webinar/conference call

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Walker Administration’s Lax Health Insurance Regulation Costly for Wisconsin Consumers

Posted by Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Robert Kraig is Executive Director, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, 221 S. 2nd St.,
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 01 September 2015
in Wisconsin

healthcare-familyNational data says letting insurers set their own rates has led to the 4th highest insurance premiums in the nation for silver plans, and cost inflation 7% to 9% higher for Wisconsinites. The average premium for a Wisconsin silver plan is $780 more per year than the national average.


STATEWIDE - The Walker’s Administration’s Office of the Commissioner of Insurance recently defended Wisconsin’s lax approach to reviewing health insurance rates, but national data refutes their claims.

According to the Milwaukee Business Journal, Deputy Insurance Commissioner Dan Schwartzer said “letting insurers set their own rates” has led to “minimal” rate increases in Wisconsin.

However, a recent report by the Commonwealth Fund found that Wisconsin had among the highest health insurance rates in the nation on the individual insurance market, and inflation rates that are well above average.

The Commonwealth Fund report found Wisconsin had the 4th highest insurance premiums in the nation for silver plans, the plans that federal government uses to calculate tax credits to make health insurance more affordable. Wisconsin also had inflation rates 9% above the national average for silver plans, and 7% above the national average for all plans on the individual market. The average premium for a Wisconsin silver plan is $780 more per year than the national average.

Citizen Action of Wisconsin has repeatedly pointed to the Walker’ Administration's lax approach to rate review as a factor in high Wisconsin health insurance costs. In June the federal government called on Wisconsin and other states to more carefully scrutinize large rate increases.

States such as Minnesota have reduced health insurance premium increases by implementing more robust rate review.

“The Walker Administration’s refusal to police excessive health insurance rates is a disaster for Wisconsinites struggling to afford rising premiums,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “Simply allowing insurance companies to set their own rates violates the intent of the federal health care law. It’s long overdue for the Walker Administration to move beyond its endless efforts to sabotage health care reform, and take advantage of the tools available to hold health insurance companies accountable for unjustified premium hikes.”

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