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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 “Bait and Switch” Health Care Plan Would Force Millions Off Health Coverage

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, 18 August 2015
in Wisconsin

aca-workingSupposed plan is a thinly veiled excuse to go backwards and to legalize discrimination.


MILWAUKEE - In an issue paper posted late last night and to be formally announced today in a speech in Minnesota, Scott Walker offers up a “bait and switch” health care plan that will immediately force millions Americans off of their health care coverage without providing any viable alternative. Walker’s ceaseless efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA) fly in the face of the public’s desire to move the discussion beyond repeal to actually improving health care, lowering costs, and saving lives.

Walker’s choice of Minnesota of all places to release his plan to go backwards on health reform is a major miscalculation. Citizen Action of Wisconsin research has shown that health insurance costs for individuals and small businesses are much lower in Minnesota than Wisconsin in part because state leaders there have been working to implement and improve the health care law. Wisconsin’s health premiums are higher in part because of Walker’s efforts to sabotage health reform.

Walker’s supposed plan is so rife with internal contradictions and fuzzy math that it will never become law. It is a campaign document not serious public policy. It repeals all funding for health care reform while promising large new subsidies with no identified source of revenue. If enacted, Walker’s plan would dramatically constrict the freedom of the American people to access affordable coverage and control their own medical decisions.

The low lights of Walker’s Health Plan include:

  • Repeal of the federal guarantee that no American can be denied coverage or charged higher premiums by insurance companies because they have pre-existing medical conditions.

  • Repeal of the federal requirement that insurance companies allow young adults to stay on their parents health policies.

  • Gutting Medicaid health programs for moderate income Americans (like BadgerCare) by block granting federal funds without any indexing for inflation, and limiting required state matching contributions. This will likely result in millions of moderate income Americans losing their affordable health coverage.

  • Repeal income-based tax subsidies which make health coverage affordable for low and middle income Americans. The plan promises new subsidies, but simultaneously repeals the funding. The plan shifts from a progressive and targeted approach to health care subsidies based on the ability to pay to an approach that would if enacted funnel millions of dollars to the wealthy who do not need help to afford coverage.

  • Shifting to a flat age-based subsidy system which will dramatically raise premiums for many Americans who rely on the federal marketplace for their health coverage. For example, 60 year old in Milwaukee, making $20,000 per year, would lose $4,474 per year in tax credits designed to mitigate the cost of their healthcare. Other medical costs would also increase because Walker also repeals caps on out-of-pocket medical costs. See more examples of cost increases for individual health consumers HERE.

  • Legalizing sale of substandard skimpy health plans which leave people vulnerable to bankruptcy and without needed care when they have a major illness.

  • Dramatically increasing health insurance premiums by creating incentives for healthier and younger Americans not to buy insurance until they are already sick, making the insurance risk pool less healthy and more expensive.

“Walker’s supposed plan is not serious health policy. It is a campaign document which provides nothing more than window dressing for a massive roll-back of the freedom to access quality affordable health care,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “The American people are tired of the constant efforts to undermine health care reform. It’s time to recognize that the health care law is here to stay. Rather than going backwards, we need to work together to make the law better and lower costs.”

As Citizen Action of Wisconsin has extensively documented, Walker’s efforts to sabotage health care reform in Wisconsin has increased costs both to consumers and government, left tens of thousands of families needlessly without life saving coverage, and saddled consumers with dangerous substandard health insurance plans.

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Citizen Action Applauds WEDC Outsourcing Accountability Bills

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, 11 August 2015
in Wisconsin

walker-wedcSTATEWIDE - Today Citizen Action of Wisconsin announced strong support for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) outsourcing accountability bills authored by Senator Dave Hansen, Rep. Debra Kolste, and Rep. Andy Jorgensen.

The bills ban companies who receive public economic development money and then outsource jobs from state aid for a period of five years. The bills are AB 340 in the Assembly and SB 211 in the Senate.

The bills follow revelations by WKOW TV Madison that a multinational corporation receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in state economic development support has twice outsourced Wisconsin jobs to Mexico. WEDC has thus far failed to take any action against the company, and has yet to close loopholes that allow companies to both take public economic development dollars and outsource jobs that Citizen Action of Wisconsin identified last year.

Citizen Action has repeatedly called on Governor Walker and lawmakers to fix the loopholes that allow public economic development dollars to go to companies engaged in outsourcing jobs. Citizen Action also continues to call on the Legislature to disband WEDC and create a fully accountable public agency to head up the state’s vital job creation efforts.

“It is clear that the Walker Administration is continuing its destructive policy of doling out tax credits and other economic assistance to large corporations engaged in selling out Wisconsin workers,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “The best way to protect precious state economic development dollars, and make sure they are only available to companies creating more family supporting jobs here in Wisconsin, is a strict policy against giving public money to firms engaged in outsourcing.”

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Walker Has No Plan for Looming Health Care Disaster

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 Friday, 19 June 2015
in Wisconsin

aca-workingDangerous U.S. Supreme Court Decision Could Come Next Week.


STATEWIDE - Governor Scott Walker continues to deny any responsibility for protecting health care coverage for over 184,000 Wisconsinites at risk because of a U.S. Supreme Court case that could be decided next week. At a campaign event in Florida, Walker recently told Bloomberg News: “States didn't create this problem, the federal government did. And they should fix it."

Governor Walker bears a special responsibility for this potential disaster because he forced tens of thousands off BadgerCare and onto the federal marketplace. In addition, many Wisconsin consumers on the health insurance marketplace have pre-existing conditions and faced shocking discrimination from insurance companies before the passage of health reform. The potential disaster would hit Wisconsin especially hard because it is a relatively high cost state for health insurance, an issue Walker has also taken no serious action to address.

The case of King v. Burwell could strip health insurance subsidies in states like Wisconsin which did not set up their own Affordable Care Act marketplaces. This could increase premiums on average over 300%. If Wisconsin were to create its own health insurance marketplace, or partner with another state that has created one, there would be no threat to health coverage.

“It’s Scott Walker’s moral responsibility as Governor to protect the people from a foreseeable disaster, like tens of thousands being cut off from health coverage,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin.”By passing the buck to Congress, Walker is putting at risk the lives and fundamental freedoms of people in every corner of Wisconsin.”

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Preliminary 2016 Health Insurance Rates A Warning Sign for Wisconsin

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, 02 June 2015
in Wisconsin

walker-rejects-med-moneySeven major Wisconsin health insurers are projecting large rate increases for 2016, ranging from 10% to 32%. Increases are a sign that Governor Walker and the State Legislator’s complete inaction on health insurance rates will cost Wisconsin.


STATEWIDE - Preliminary health insurance premium rates released this week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show that seven major Wisconsin health insurers projecting large rate increases for 2016, including major for-profit companies such as UnitedHealthcare.

Rate increases range from 10% to 32% for these seven companies. The proposed rates were released because under the transparency provisions of the Affordable Care Act proposed rate increases over 10% must be made public.

The projected rate increases are a sign that Governor Walker and the State Legislator’s complete inaction on health insurance rates will cost Wisconsin consumers dearly in 2016.

According to a report released by Citizen Action of Wisconsin in April, there are a number of decisions the Walker Administration and the Legislature have made that are increasing health insurance rates in Wisconsin.

First, the Walker Administration's failure to implement robust rate review may be increasing premiums from 4-17%. Although the Affordable Care Act requires Walker’s Office of the Commissioner of Insurance to review premiums increases over 10%, the agency has yet to find a single rate increase excessive since this provision of the law went into effect in 2011.

Second, failure to accept enhanced federal funds for BadgerCare is shifting higher cost consumers onto private insurance, raising premiums for everyone else. Research from the Rand Corporation projects that states which refuse expanded Medicaid dollars have rates 8-10% higher.

Third, the Walker Administration made the decision to allow substandard health plans to continue to be sold in Wisconsin. A Rand Corporation report found that this practice keeps healthy people who already had insurance when the health care law went into effect out of the risk pool, raising premiums by as much as 10% for everyone else.

“It is stunning that health insurance costs seem to have fallen off the public agenda in Madison,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “The preliminary 2016 health insurance premium increases ought to be a wakeup to policymakers that moderating health care costs should be one of the top priorities of state government. In the new health care environment, those states that take full advantage of the tools provided by health care reform will have lower costs than those that do nothing but try to sabotage reform. ”

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Governor Walker’s Failed Jobs Agency Should be Scrapped

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, 11 May 2015
in Wisconsin

walker-wedcSTATEWIDE - After the release of yet another devastating state audit showing that the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has failed to document that companies receiving grants, tax credits, and loans are actually creating jobs, Governor Walker abruptly announced that he is pulling the plug on his controversial plan to merge the troubled agency with the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA).

While the cancellation of the proposed merger is welcome news for economic opportunity advocates, it fails to address the fundamental problem. WEDC is not just badly mismanaged, it is a flawed model. The notion that our scarce job creation resources should be doled out to business without real accountability is one of the worst ideas in modern Wisconsin legislative history.

The failure to close loopholes that allow companies receiving WEDC support to outsource Wisconsin jobs is only the tip of the iceberg. Wisconsin job growth has lagged behind the rest of the nation, and even worse the majority of jobs generated have been in low income occupations where poverty wages predominate.

The structure of WEDC itself, which by design has less accountability and transparency than a traditional public agency, raises questions about undue influence, further undermining public’s trust in their own government. In an environment where massive corporate election expenditures have been legalized, the public deserves ironclad guarantees that the process of handing out public economic development dollars is above politics.

The only permanent solution that can restore public confidence is to disband WEDC, and create a fully accountable department. The new department should focus its resources on creating the maximum number of family supporting jobs, not poverty jobs, and should place a special emphasis on areas with the greatest shortage of good jobs. There should be clear publicly known benchmarks for any company receiving assistance, a transparent process fully insulated from political considerations, and clawbacks from companies that fail to create the family supporting jobs that were promised. It should adopt Senator Hansen’s proposal to stop providing funds to companies engaged in outsourcing of jobs. It should also cease WEDC’s failed strategy of wasting money on poaching jobs from neighboring states, rather than investing in new economic opportunity.

Given recent research that shows the WIsconsin middle class has contracted more than any state in the country, it is critical that Wisconsin create an effective public agency that can make real progress on opening opportunity to more Wisconsin families.

“What is good for CEOs is not necessarily good for workers. Handing over our state’s economic policies to multinational corporations engaged in outsourcing and converting middle class jobs into poverty wage jobs is driving Wisconsin’s economy into the ground,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “The only way we can halt the decline of the middle class, and expand opportunity to all those who are currently shut out, is to make creating good family supporting jobs the singular purpose of Wisconsin economic policy. No large corporation or CEO has any rightful claim on public dollars, unless they are in turn expanding real economic opportunity for Wisconsin workers.”

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