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Thursday, October 24, 2013


“Wisconsin health insurance exchange premiums for single coverage will be on average 79% to 99% higher than premiums in Minnesota, before tax credits are applied,” according to a new report.

If you’re wondering why there is such a disparity in healthcare insurance costs between similar states like Wisconsin and Minnesota, it’s because Tea Party Governor Scott Walker rejected enhanced federal Medicaid dollars and Wisconsin Republicans decided not to implement more robust rate reviews. Translation: Republicans rejected money to expand Medicaid and Republicans choose not to oversee rate regulation (if this doesn’t ring a bell, when Republicans discuss it, they call their refusal to check corporation’s “freedom” and “free markets”).

These decisions may cost Wisconsinites $1,800 or more a year over what their Minnesota counterparts pay for health insurance. Wisconsinites will pay between 79% and 99% higher premiums before tax credits are applied, and the middle class will be hit the hardest. Some cities will pay as much as 136% higher premiums.

Citizen Action of Wisconsin released a new report documenting the vast differences between Minnesota and Wisconsin in the cost for health insurance on the individual insurance marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act.

• Wisconsin health insurance exchange premiums for single coverage will be on average 79% to 99% higher than premiums in Minnesota, before tax credits are applied. That is a difference of over $1,800 a year.
•The health insurance cost differential will be even worse for some major Wisconsin cities. Rates in La Crosse are 136% higher than the Minnesota average, rates in Eau Claire are 116% higher, and rates in Milwaukee are 112% higher.

• The cost gap with Minnesota has the biggest impact on middle class Wisconsinites because Affordable Care Act tax credits mitigate the impact on lower income people who buy insurance on the exchange.
Additionally, when Walker announced his Republican plan to reject Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare, he was warned that this would cost Wisconsin state taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Walker, with his eye on 2016, was at war with President Obama and what better way to prove his conservative bona fides than by rejecting as much of ObamaCare as he could.

It’s not as if Walker can run on his job creation numbers or making a great climate for business. Wisconsin is failing in both departments under Walker. He’s got to be able to run as the guy who fought Obama and won — a feat he has not actually managed to do, regardless of how many times he and his BFF Paul Ryan blame Mitt Romney for the 2012 election loss. Reality plays a small part in Republican politics these days that Walker won’t be hurt by inventing his own world so long as he is the comic book hero who said No to the Illegitimate President.

Comic book narratives aside, the Walker administration is still confused about how this fiscal stuff works (sure Walker didn’t graduate from college, but that is no excuse — plenty of Americans can add and subtract without going to college). Walker’s secretary of health services, Kitty Rhoades, claims to believe that they didn’t walk away from money - the state will have more money by petulantly keeping the working poor off of Medicaid expansions at the fed’s expense.

This belief earned her a Mostly False from PolitiFact. It turns out, the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau says Walker’s decision is going to cost state taxpayers $119 million and could exceed $459 million through 2021.

Scott Walker justifies this by claiming to believe the federal government won’t come through with the money because of the debt (along this failed logic, why wait for anything to be proven – if you feel it, it must be – leadership by hysterical emotion of the mentally impaired has worked out so well in the past). To be fair, perhaps Walker knew of his party’s plans to tank the economy with a shutdown and threat to refuse to pay our bills. If so, conspiracy charges are warranted, immediately following the mandatory Republican math class.

The Walker administration champions their plan to instead drive the money to health insurance companies and health care providers. More transferring of the wealth to corporations, or “job creation” in Republican speak.

Minnesota also took ObamaCare up on the money provided to review rates – aka, oversight, but Wisconsin hasn’t. They’re cool with whatever the insurance companies want to charge citizens. Regulation is the death of corporate freedom, after all, and when corporations aren’t free to rob citizens, they allegedly won’t create so many crappy jobs that don’t pay a living wage.

Appeasement of the corporate beast is a must in Republican circles and so Wisconsinites are getting it again. No doubt Republicans will blame Obama for this, too, since they are loath to take responsibility for their own behavior, ideology and policies.

Thanks to Scott Walker, Wisconsin Will Pay Up To 99% Higher Insurance Costs was written by Sarah Jones for PoliticusUSA.

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