|State should accept Medicaid expansion funds|
Letter to the Editor:
Vilas County has a federal poverty rate of about 12.9%, ranking it 30th among the 72 Wisconsin counties. The city of Eagle River has a per-capita income of $15,876, ranking it 517 out of 631 Wisconsin cities and towns.
Vilas County relies heavily on tourism, which often provides part-time or seasonal employment without benefits, most importantly health care. Many working individuals in Vilas County link multiple part-time and seasonal jobs together to make a living.
Nationally, half the employed individuals in America make under $32,000 per year. In 2012, 40% of wage earners made $20,000 per year or less.For the first time in our history dating back to President Harry Truman, a president succeeded where many before, both Republican and Democrat, have failed. He moved us a step closer toward universal health care, an area where we have been playing catch-up behind most of the industrialized world.
As a Social Service director (now retired), I always supported the concept of universal health care whether a single-payer system or a private insurance marketplace with the expansion of Medicaid.
I thought that we were moving in that direction. BadgerCare was expanding to cover parents as well as the children in lower-income families, childless adults were being covered, income eligibility was being raised. I thought eventually all these programs would be pulled together under a single umbrella with a public/private partnership.
The supreme court upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It stated that the mandate could be required under the taxing authority of the federal government. However, the federal government could not penalize the states for refusing the expansion of Medicaid required to make the program whole, nor could they penalize the states who refuse to set up their own exchanges as designed.
So as you already know, Wisconsin said in effect, “Keep your money and exchanges.” Money for this expansion was already approved and available, with little to no match by the state. What an incredible deal for Wisconsin and Vilas County’s low-income working families and individuals, and for local hospitals and clinics to have a funding source connected to all patients. This deal was so good for the states, that supporters of the ACA law thought there was no way state politicians could, in good faith to their constituencies, refuse it.
Oh, how wrong they were. No one then could have predicted how deep and wide this ideological divide in the country and in particular Wisconsin would become. Wisconsin with it’s one-party system sits in the epicenter of crazy divided government, slashing and dashing all hope of moving closer to universal health care.
As a third-generation Wisconsinite, I was taught all jobs have value and all people doing those jobs conscientiously deserve respect. They don’t deserve ideologues for politicians making it more difficult for them to provide for their children and themselves in an already tough economy. No one who worked in any health-related field would have ever expected movement towards universal health care to be easy.
I don’t know why our politicians are so set on sabotaging this historic and long-awaited legislation. If it’s because our president looks different and has a funny name, or it offends their ideology, or they harbor old welfare stereotypes, or maybe they’re just indifferent to the needs of others and seek political power and financial gain, whatever it is, get over it!
Lift Wisconsin up, do the right thing, the ethical thing. Accept the Medicaid expansion money and get to work on setting up our own exchanges, now.
Greg Schiek Sr.
|Tuesday, November 26, 2013 11:45 AM|