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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.

New Revenue Numbers Reveal Absurdity of Turning Down Enhanced BadgerCare Dollars

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, 07 May 2015
in Wisconsin

STATEWIDE - Now that the new revenue estimates released earlier this week have failed to produce any budget saving unicorns, attention should shift to the $345 million Governor Walker is leaving on the table by rejecting enhanced federal funding for BadgerCare.

5health_f1.The map at right provided by the Center on Budget and Policy priorities shows just how isolated Wisconsin is in rejecting this money.  Wisconsin is the only state in the entire Great Lakes region to turn down these critically important federal dollars.

As Citizen Action of Wisconsin explained earlier this week, because Governor’s Walker’s economic policies is generating mostly poverty-wage jobs, the cost of rejecting the BadgerCare money is increasing. One of the reasons that revenue estimates are slightly down is that the Governor’s policies are driving down wages in both the public and the private sector.

“This week’s revenue numbers should be a wake up call to Legislators to revisit Governor Walker’s damaging decision to rejected enhanced federal dollars for BadgerCare,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “Wisconsin cannot afford to needlessly leave tens of thousands of citizens without affordable health care, and in the process force massive cuts to critical investments in economic opportunity such as funding for our schools, technical colleges, and universities.”

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Growth of Poverty Wage Jobs Makes Rejection of BadgerCare Dollars a Fiscal Threat

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, 05 May 2015
in Wisconsin

wi_madison_poverty-jobsSTATEWIDE - The combination of the growing number of poverty wage jobs that do not provide health benefits and Governor Walker’s decision to reject federal dollars for BadgerCare are already having a major fiscal impact on the state budget, which will grow worse for the foreseeable future.

The number of Wisconsin workers eligible for BadgerCare and who work for large poverty wage employers has increased by 8% over the last year, according to data released last week by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Highly profitable corporations such as Walmart, McDonald’s, Kwik Trip and Target now have more employees on BadgerCare than they did in 2013. New federal data released last week shows that Medicaid enrollment in Wisconsin has increased more than 6.8% over the last year.

One of the main drivers increasing BadgerCare enrollment is the failure of Wisconsin’s economic development policies to produce family supporting jobs which include health benefits. Nine of the top ten occupations with job openings in Wisconsin have low or very low wages and benefits. The two fastest growing occupations in Wisconsin are retail and fast food jobs. Recent reports from the UW-Madison Institute for Research on Poverty and the UW-Milwaukee Center for Economic Development confirm that poverty wage jobs are the major source of job growth in Wisconsin, and that poverty continues to increase even as more of these jobs are created.

The disturbing growth in poverty wage jobs is making the fiscal impact of Governor Walker’s decision to reject enhanced federal dollars for BadgerCare even worse. This is because Wisconsin is needlessly paying 40 cents on the dollar for many BadgerCare enrollees who could be entirely paid for with federal dollars. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates each individual on BadgerCare not covered with the enhanced federal funding Walker rejected costs Wisconsin $4,596 per year. The Fiscal Bureau estimate of the cost of this decision continues to increase. According to the most recent estimate, the decision to reject enhanced federal Medicaid dollars will cost the state $345 million in the next budget, unless the Legislature reverses it.

“The combination of the failure of Governor Walker’s economic policies to create family supporting jobs and his misguided decision to reject federal funds for BadgerCare together are having a major negative impact on the state budget which will grow worse over time,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “Governor Walker’s economic, health care, and budget policies are creating a perfect storm of destruction, needlessly denying affordable health care to tens of thousands, shrinking the middle class, and leaving hundreds of millions of dollars on the table that could be used to support education, long term care, and other vital investments needed to expand opportunity.”

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Walker Admits Jobs Agency Has Outsourcing Issues

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, 01 May 2015
in Wisconsin

walkerCitizen Action of Wisconsin believes outsourcing scandal shows whole WEDC model is flawed and can only be permanently fixed by scuttling the agency.


STATEWIDE - Yesterday Governor Scott Walker told WKOW TV 27 Madison that he was open to more sanctions against companies that take state job creation money and then outsource Wisconsin jobs.

This is a major reversal for the Walker, whose administration has repeatedly denied Citizen Action of Wisconsin’s contention that it is still perfectly legal for companies to outsource and to also receive large grants, loans, and tax credits from the Governor’s jobs agency, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporations (WEDC). In October, Wisconsin Public Radio reported that WEDC officials refused to respond to Citizen Action’s contention. WEDC also refused to respond to similar questions from the Shepherd Express.

Wednesday Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) announced he was drafting an outsourcing accountability bill. Senator Hansen’s bill bans companies who receive public economic development money and then outsource jobs from state aid for a period of five years. Hansen’s bill follows revelations first reported by WKOW TV Madison that a multinational corporation, Eaton Corp., receiving state economic development support is outsourcing Wisconsin jobs to Mexico for a second time.

Citizen Action of Wisconsin believes that the outsourcing scandal demonstrates that the entire WEDC model is hopelessly flawed and can only be permanently fixed by scuttling the agency.

“The outsourcing scandal is only the tip of the iceberg. That state aid to corporations engaged in undermining Wisconsin workers is even possible debunks Governor Walker’s whole idea that precious state job creation dollars should be doled out by an unaccountable semi-public agency like WEDC,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “The best solution to the failure of the WEDC model is to disband it, and create a fully accountable public agency which focuses investments like a laser beam on creating family supporting jobs, not merely doling out money to multinational corporations who are selling out Wisconsin workers.”

Reporting by the Milwaukee Business Journal sheds further light on WEDC’s shobby outsourcing standards. WEDC officials have claimed that performance standards assure that companies receiving state assistance are adding jobs to the economy, even if they are also engaged in outsourcing. However, business reporter Tom Held found that Eaton received nearly $370,000  in WEDC tax credits to create 25 jobs and to retain 150 jobs. They then turned around and outsourced 93 jobs to Mexico, a net loss of 68 jobs in Wisconsin.

Citizen Action of Wisconsin also argues that preventing the merger of WEDC with another public authority simply leaves the present failed system in place.

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Wisconsin Idea is Still under Attack

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, 24 April 2015
in Wisconsin

scott-walker-clapsMADISON - Gov. Scott Walker’s attack on the Wisconsin Idea did not end with his botched attempt to re-write the University of Wisconsin’s mission statement. The substance of the attack is ongoing in his state budget.

The Wisconsin Idea is as simple as it is compelling. The fundamental rationale for our public universities is the on-going “search for truth” which elevates the lives of students to higher purposes than mere money getting and extends “knowledge and its application beyond the boundaries of the campus” in order to “improve the human condition.”

The Wisconsin Idea as it developed over 100 years was not mere lofty language. The words were matched by financial commitments decade after decade which, built our public education system brick by brick. Now Walker, with his slashing education cuts, is undercutting these investments

This commitment to learning as a gateway to social progress, and the fundamental belief that it is within our power to bridge the gap between the world as it is and the world as it can be, motivated generations of Wisconsinites much poorer than ourselves. Year after year farmers and shopkeepers and industrial workers put their nickels and dimes together to invest heavily in building our world class university system, our highly rated public schools, and our renowned technical colleges.

The idea that we don’t have the money is absurd. We are a far richer state than we were 100 years ago and even 50 years ago. Walker wants us to think we live in an age of limits, but they are self imposed. In Walker’s narrow ideology giving large tax giveaways to large corporations with no strings attached and turning down millions of dollars of federal health care money are more important than continuing our generational commitment to education.

This attack on the Wisconsin Idea goes beyond funding. Walker’s scheme to spin off our universities, stripping public accountability from a system the people of Wisconsin built together, cuts the UW system off from its public charge. At its core, the Wisconsin Idea is about connecting our universities to the public and its needs, applying cutting-edge knowledge to our social and economic problems to advance opportunity and better society.

Walker’s brand of conservatism is not interested in such knowledge. In Walker’s doublespeak, forcing people off health coverage is innovation, wind farms are a greater threat to human health than fossil fuels, slashing money for education is reform, the failed voucher school experiment is a success, dismal job creation numbers are a comeback, $7.25 an hour is a “living wage,” gutting unions will raises wages, and a budget deficit is a surplus. No wonder Walker wants to scuttle Wisconsin’s century-old “search for truth” and the application of knowledge “beyond the campus.”

The visionaries who framed the Wisconsin Idea, and the generations of average people who made it a reality, had great dreams for our future, and acted on those dreams. We should continue to follow in their footsteps.

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Wisconsin Health Insurance Rates Still Dramatically Higher than Minnesota’s

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 Wednesday, 08 April 2015
in Wisconsin

healthcare-familyNew Citizen Action Report Reveals Wisconsin Health Insurance Costs 20-89% Higher than Minnesota's.


STATEWIDE - Citizen Action of Wisconsin released today the new report  Tale of Two States 2015 Report: Why Wisconsin's Health Insurance Costs Are Dramatically Higher Than Minnesota's.

The full report can be downloaded here.

In addition to providing statewide numbers, the report also compares health insurance individual marketplace rates for Wisconsin’s major metro areas, revealing major differentials in cost.

Key findings in report:

  • Statewide Wisconsin health insurance rates continue to be far above Minnesota rates. Silver plans are on average 60% more in Wisconsin and have a $600 higher deductible

  • For individual metro areas, the lowest cost silver plans range from 20-89% higher in Wisconsin, compared to the average cost in Minnesota.

  • These percentage differences translate into $480 - $2,125 more per person per year in Wisconsin for a 40 year old before Affordable Care Act tax credits.

  • If the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the pending King v. Burwell case takes away tax subsidies, Wisconsin consumers just over the poverty line would see rates as much as 2,400% higher than their Minnesota counterparts.

The report also shows that the U.S. Supreme Court Case of  King v. Burwell Court could make the rate disparity between Wisconsin and Minnesota much worse. The case, that will be decided in May or June, 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, there would be no threat to health coverage.

“The fact that Minnesota is doing so much better than Wisconsin in controlling health insurance costs should be a wakeup call to state leaders in Madison,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “This report documents that states like Wisconsin that refuse to use the tools made available by national health care reform are undermining the fundamental freedom of their own residents to access quality affordable health coverage.”

“The decisions that are made here at the State Capitol have big impacts the cost of healthcare for our citizens”, said State Representative Melissa Sargent. “This high cost hurts our families, our businesses and our state. Families will have less spending money and businesses have less money to give raises.”

“A very significant factor in the cost of health insurance is the rejection of federal funds for BadgerCare, said Jon Peacock, Research Director for the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families. “The high cost of coverage for those denied BadgerCare will mean only those that know they need the insurance will scrape together the money to purchase coverage. As a result, adverse selection in the market leads to higher rates for everyone.”

Causes:

The report finds that state policy has a quantifiable impact on the premium disparities between Minnesota and Wisconsin. To see all the public policy drivers documented in the report click here.

1. Medicaid: Wisconsin’s rejection of federal funds for BadgerCare pushes more expensive consumers onto private insurance, driving up rates.

2. Rate Review: Wisconsin has not used it’s insurance rate review power to publicly challenge rate increases to block excessive rate increases and reduce wasteful spending.

3. Substandard Plans: Wisconsin continues to allow the sale of substandard insurance plans that are not compliant with the Affordable Care Act, damaging insurance risk pools.

4. Public Leverage: Wisconsin has not taken advantage of its purchasing power leverage to reduce costs outside of Madison.

For a full list of health insurance cost disparity causes, as well as other policy proposals, download the full research report.

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