One week after the Congressional shutdown ended and the GOP was unable to defund or delay the start of the Affordable Care Act, their efforts have now turned to trying to make sure Obamacare fails. And in states where the GOP is control, it's certainly working worse than in states when Democrats are in control, and that's not by coincidence. Several stories this week illustrate how Republicans continue to try to sabotage the implementation of this program, and injure their constituents in the process.
For example, Bill Lueders and Alison Dirr had an article showing that many Wisconsin agencies that were supposed to have "navigators" in place to help citizens sign up for the federal insurance exchanges were not licensed by the state until after open enrollment in the exchanges began on October 1, and a couple of agencies still haven't been licensed. The navigators were delayed in starting because Gov Scott Walker refused $37 million dollars from the federal government to start work on a state-based exchangethat would have connected to the national mainframe, and instead chose to dump Wisconsinites onto the federal exchange with little time for the feds to prepare. In addition, the state then put in an extra step that required navigators to be licensed by the state of Wisconsin, which caused further delays in getting the state up to speed.
"There's a fair amount of blame to go around," said Bobby Peterson, executive director of ABC for Health, a Madison public interest law firm. He cited federal delays in getting the program started, followed by additional "hoops and hurdles" for would-be navigators imposed by the state.And across the water in Minnesota, there are fewer of these stories about problems in signing up Obamacare exchanges. Over 3,700 Minnesotans reportedly signed up for coverage through Obamacare in the first 2 1/2 weeks of enrollment, 1,800 more are finalizing their choice of plan, and nearly 12,000 total people were covered by mid-October.
The Wisconsin insurance office requires all navigators to go through 16 hours of training, pass a written test and background check, submit to fingerprinting and pay fees. And the groups they work for must register with the state and secure liability coverage for navigator misconduct.
[State Insurance Commissioner Spokesman J.P.] Wieske said the state needs to protect vulnerable consumers from people who might take advantage of them. But Peterson said the federal government already established strict standards for the agencies receiving navigator funding.
Minnesotans are also paying much less than for their Obamacare insurance Wisconsinites are, as Citizen Action of Wisconsin said Cheeseheads are paying between 79% and 99% than 'Sotans are for similar health care plans (before tax credits). And Citizen Action directly faults Walker Administration officials for refusing to take the expanded Medicaid funds, and using cost-containment measures that are part of the ACA
Wisconsin has the opportunity to bring down rates by accepting enhanced federal Medicaid funds and using state powers such as reviewing and rejecting excessive rates to make health insurance more affordable.And oh yeah, refusing the federally-funded Medicaid costs Wisconsin taxpayers an extra $119 million over the next 2 years, and possibly another $52 million a year on top of thatdue to lower-than-expected reimbursements from the feds for the Medicaid we do have left.
Wisconsin’s rejection of a state-based exchange strip policymakers of additional tools for moderating health insurance rates.
It isn't just Minnesota that Wisconsin is falling behind. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has been all over the national media telling people how Obamacare is working in his state. Not coincidentally, Dem Gov. Beshear worked with the Kentucky Legislature to set uip the Kentucky-based KY-nect for their insurance exchange, with over 26,000 Kentuckians signing up for coverage as of Thursday,and he says Obamacare opponents "Just aren't paying attention to the facts."
Now that's a politician who's telling it like it is. Wish we had a lot more Dems like him in DC and Madison telling the truth and standing up for Obamacare, instead of timidly making excuses or worrying about the sky falling 2 months before anyone has to be signed up.
This classic video from nearly 20 years ago illustrates what WisGOP and other Republicans are trying to do with Obamacare, now that they can't defund it. It's also a fitting video because it's WJJO's "All '90s Weekend" here in Madison, and it's timeless inspiration for Halloween.