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6/30/2020

The ACA and Medicaid Compared

To repeat what I said yesterday, health care is a right, not a privilege. Every Wisconsin resident should have access to high-quality, affordable health care when they need it.

A few days ago, the Trump administration filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act. If that happens, 224,000 Wisconsinites (and about 23.3 million Americans) would lose health coverage, with no plan in place to replace it. This is unconscionable, especially during our COVID-19 pandemic when thousands of Wisconsinites have already lost their health insurance due to job loss.

When I am in office, I will fight to protect and expand health care coverage.

This is a great time to talk about the difference between the ACA and Medicaid, in light of my post yesterday on why Wisconsin should accept the federal Medicaid expansion (this started as a comment to a different post, but I thought it’d be good to have it here as a separate post as well):

The short version is that the difference between Medicaid and ACA is that ACA health plans are offered by private health insurance companies while Medicaid is a government program that is jointly funded by the federal government and each state. It is provided for individuals who qualify based on income, age, or health need. Those who receive Medicaid are usually children, adults with a disability, or low-income older Americans as it is a social welfare program like WIC, SNAP, or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.

The term “Obamacare” is used to describe private health insurance purchased through the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges. Obamacare insurance plans are offered by insurance companies such as Anthem, Cigna, and others—they are not run by the government.

As of right now, 37 states (including DC) have accepted the federal Medicaid expansion and 14 have not. As you can see on this map, all of our neighboring states have done so:

https://www.kff.org/medicaid/issue-brief/status-of-state-medicaid-expansion-decisions-interactive-map/?fbclid=IwAR14-lQKS6c561DHUysr_SoJui7dURtc1BhdqFbKYxRYJYJNC8VvAtZS-9I

It is projected that accepting the federal Medicaid expansion would save WI approximately $2.5-billion over the next decade (not to mention insuring 16% more Wisconsinites), because the federal government would cover the full cost of the program for the first few years, and then cover 90% (or roughly $185-million a year) of the cost thereafter (currently, they pay about 60%).

The really short version is: the federal government already pays for a large chunk of Wisconsin’s Medicaid program. By expanding the eligibility for Medicaid to make it more available to working low-wage families, the federal government is simply offering to increase their share of the Medicaid program.

That's how Wisconsin would actually save money by expanding coverage. It's an incentive to do the right thing. Now more than ever, we should accept the Medicaid expansion.

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