Quality healthcare is a basic human right. Therefore, I will safeguard affordable healthcare to protect families from losing coverage, even those with pre-existing conditions.
We also need to create health equity (attainment of highest level of health for all people), an achievable goal in Wisconsin. I will work to author, sponsor, and vote for bills to improve access to care and legislation that makes insurance and medications affordable.
Premiums, co-pays, and deductibles have become unaffordable to many residents and employers. I plan to propose policies to fix this issue while also holding the Office of Commissioner of Insurance accountable for how its rules and policies impact premiums and consumer choice.
Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA/"Obamacare") is often blamed for increased premiums, the reality is that the higher premiums are a result of the way the state of Wisconsin implemented that legislation. To be specific, it is the fault of Wisconsin's policies along with the federal government's health reform/cost-sharing uncertainty that has created higher costs for Wisconsinites seeking coverage.
We also need to remove the partisan polarization from the insurance discussion and do what is best for our residents, which is to make insurance affordable and accessible. This goal is achievable once we approach the problem with the understanding that healthcare is not and should not be a political issue.
Limited support and resources have been given to help Wisconsinites understand their health insurance options, which is why I led a grassroots effort in 2013 to offer health insurance assistance at Badger High School, a tradition that continues today at Open Arms Free Clinic.
Bottom line, I will fight for your right to choose your insurance plan. There is a misperception that folks are "forced" to purchase "Obamacare" insurance. Wisconsin has a vibrant and strong private insurance market from which residents may purchase coverage, instead of relying on ACA offerings. We have choices - affordability is the problem.
First, I want to acknowledge that Wisconsin’s partial expansion of BadgerCare (Medicaid) has clearly been a better choice than no expansion, whatsoever. However, I am concerned that Wisconsin did not accept all available federal funds to expand Medicaid. This refusal not only prevents some residents from having coverage, but it also doubles the health care tax burden to all Wisconsin residents. A portion of our federal taxes is paying for other states to expand their Medicaid, resulting in higher Wisconsin taxes that would have been covered by the additional federal funds refused by our state. As a result, Wisconsin’s partial Medicaid expansion covers far fewer people at a much greater cost, both financially and when measured in lives disabled or lost. This policy is not a judicious use of taxpayer money and is not in the best interest of the health of our community.
If Wisconsin were to fully expand Medicaid, more than 80,000 additional adults who are between 100% and 138% of the federal poverty level would be covered at no expense to Wisconsin. That change would yield a net savings for Wisconsin taxpayers of about $190 million per year. It is important to note that per CMS guidance, there is no deadline for states to implement the Medicaid expansion, so we may still avail ourselves of this cost-saving benefit.
In addition, Wisconsin has some of the lowest Medicaid dental reimbursement rates in the nation. This inequity is absolutely unacceptable, reducing access to dental care. The tremendous losses experienced by Wisconsin dentists who serve Medicaid patients is well documented; therefore, Medicaid dental reimbursement must be increased, in particular for safety-net clinics.
The reality is that our children are suffering because we have not expanded Medicaid. Wisconsin went from having the 12th lowest rate of uninsured children in 2013 to a tie for 20th lowest in 2016. Also, states that expanded Medicaid coverage for parents found that there was increased Medicaid participation among children who were already eligible. (Source: Georgetown University Health Policy Institute)
Lack of complete Medicaid expansion has affected other health issues as well: Among the 1.9 million non-elderly adults with opioid addiction, those with Medicaid were twice as likely as those with private insurance or no insurance to have received treatment in 2016, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Expanding Medicaid access will help in the fight against the current opioid epidemic.
We all should have many concerns about Wisconsin Medicaid waivers and how they negatively impact the health and finances of our residents and communities. I support full Medicaid expansion because it will afford Wisconsinites better coverage at no additional cost.
Whole Person Health.
I believe in a whole person approach to healthcare, which not only includes physical health, but also includes everything that contributes to our well-being: clean air, drinkable water, safe neighborhoods, drivable roads, food security, affordable housing, quality education, and living wages. I will advocate and champion policies to make Wisconsin the best and healthiest state in which to live.
I support the continued protection of essential healthcare benefits, such as comprehensive coverage that protects consumers from unexpected surgeries, tests, diagnoses, or denied claims.
Prior to the Essential Health Benefits afforded by the ACA, many plans excluded maternity and mental health services. Since most of us don't read the lengthy explanation provided with our insurance benefits, we often are unaware services are excluded until a need arises. In a community where life is valued, we must make sure all residents have access to maternity coverage. Since substance abuse is also a public health epidemic, we must ensure all residents have access to whatever type of care is needed, whether it is physical or mental.
The coverage from insurance plans and the complexity of the U.S. health system in general are all difficult to navigate, which negatively effects healthcare literacy. Therefore, in order to alleviate any uncertainty regarding coverage, I support the clearly stated consumer protections of the ACA and believe Wisconsin residents should have access to:
I value all life, from birth through death, and believe in helping people throughout their entire lives. If our society truly wants to eliminate abortions, we should be focusing on the reasons why a woman would seek an abortion in the first place. What makes a woman or family feel an abortion is their only option? I will work to make policy changes that give women and families alternatives to this last resort. I support programs that address the root cause of abortion and, by addressing those causes, we can prevent abortions while increasing the likelihood of children being born into happy families. Therefore, I propose that:
From history, we know that making abortions illegal will not end the practice; instead, it makes them unsafe. Prior to Roe v. Wade, there were too many stories and too many statistics that supported the fact that women died at the hands of back-alley butchers who claimed to be medical professionals. As such, I support access to safe and legal abortions. When Roe v. Wade made abortion legal nationwide, it had a dramatic impact on the health and well-being of American women. Deaths from abortions plummeted and are now a rarity; additionally, overall abortion rates have declined.
I will protect the right of a woman to make decisions about her own body and well-being.