Quality healthcare is a basic human right. Therefore, I will safeguard affordable healthcare and protect families from losing coverage, even those with pre-existing conditions.
We need to eliminate health disparities. Health equity (attainment of highest level of health for all people) is achievable in Wisconsin. I will work to author, sponsor, and vote for bills to improve access to care and bills that make insurance and medications affordable.
Premiums, co-pays, and deductibles have become unaffordable to many residents and employers. I plan to propose Wisconsin policies to fix this issue and hold the Office of Commissioner of Insurance accountable for how their rules and policies impact premiums and consumer choice.
Although "Obamacare" is often blamed for increased premiums, the reality is that the state of Wisconsin chose how to implement the Affordable Care Act ("ACA" / "Obamacare"). It is the fault of Wisconsin's policies and federal government health reform/cost-sharing uncertainty that resulted in higher premiums.
We need to remove the polarization from the insurance discussion, and do what is best for our residents, which is to make insurance affordable and accessible. I understand what Wisconsin can do and see this goal as achievable.
Furthermore, limited support and resources have been given to help Wisconsinites understand their health insurance options. That 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.
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 not expanding Medicaid at all. However, I am concerned that Wisconsin did not accept the federal money to expand Medicaid that was available to our state at no additional charge.
This refusal not only prevents some residents from having coverage, but it also doubles the health care tax burden to Wisconsin residents. A portion of our federal taxes pay for other states to expand their Medicaid, resulting in the need for our Wisconsin taxes to be higher to cover what we didn't accept from the federal government. Wisconsin’s partial Medicaid expansion covers far fewer people at a much greater cost, both financially and when measured in lives disabled/lost. This policy is not wise 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.
Wisconsin has some of the lowest Medicaid dental reimbursement rates in the nation. This inequity is absolutely unacceptable, causing a lack of access to dental care. The tremendous losses to Wisconsin dentists associated with seeing Medicaid patients is well documented. The Medicaid dental reimbursement must be increased, in particular for safety-net clinics.
Furthermore, 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, as 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).
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 should be done to fight the current opioid epidemic.
We all should have many concerns about the lack of Medicaid expansion and how these costly missteps will negatively impact the health and finances of our residents and communities.
Whole Person Health.
I believe in a whole-person approach to healthcare, which not only includes physical health, but it also includes everything that contributes to our well-being, such as: 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 tomes explaining 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 benefits. Also, where substance abuse is a public health epidemic, we must ensure all residents have access to whatever type of care is needed, whether it is physical or mental.
Insurance programs and the U.S. health system are difficult to navigate; limited health literacy affects adults in all racial and ethnic groups. I support ACA consumer protections and believe Wisconsin should continue to:
I value all life from birth through death and I believe in the importance of helping people throughout their entire life. I believe that if our society truly wants to eliminate abortions, we should be focusing on what is causing a woman to seek an abortion in the first place. What is making that woman or family feel that an abortion is their only option? We should work for policy changes that help women and families not feel stuck.
I support programs that address the root cause of abortion; safe access is not the root cause. By addressing root causes, we can prevent abortions and increase the likelihood of children being born into happy families. For starters, we must make sure that: