Walker spins a tale about Affordable Health Care Act costs for The Washington Post.
"Obamacare," says Walker, selectively picking some numbers from a study, "will devastate Wisconsin."
I hope the paper gives equal space to facts and commentary from actual Wisconsin health care expert Robert Kraig:
Scott Walker Misleads Nation on Impact of Health Care Reform in Wisconsin
Milwaukee: In an op-ed in today’s Washington Post, Governor Scott Walker cherry picks data from an actuarial report by MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber to present a very misleading impression of the impact of the Affordable Care Act in Wisconsin.
The Walker Administration’s misleading representation of this report drew controversy last fall.
The misrepresentations were detailed in Citizen Action op-eds in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Capital Times last year.
Walker fails to mention many of the most important findings in the Gruber report, including the single most significant finding that the health care reform law will result in 340,000 uninsured Wisconsinites gaining coverage.
Walker attempts to create the false impression that Wisconsinites will lose coverage.
Walker does not mention the report findings that showed Wisconsinites who buy insurance on their own will receive $729 million in federal tax credits and subsidies to make health insurance more affordable and that 41% will receive significant premium reductions averaging 56%.
Walker also does not mention the report finding that 47% of Wisconsin small employers will see premium reductions averaging 16% or that most small employers who provide health coverage to their employees will continue to do so.
Crucially, Walker’s numbers on rate increases are all a result of a sorting out of the health insurance market that will take place when health insurance industry discrimination is ended.
By pulling his numbers out of context, Walker hides from view that most people will be much better off in the long term once health insurance industry discrimination is outlawed.Walker’s rate increase numbers relate to those who would pay more in the short term because health care reform forces the insurance industry to end discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, age and gender, and requires higher quality coverage.In the current health insurance market, individuals and small groups of younger and healthier people get lower rates because the insurance industry discriminates against others and because it sometimes sells substandard policies that do not meet new national consumer standards.Insurers currently can deny coverage, charge discriminatory rates or add exclusionary riders for policyholders with pre-existing conditions.Ending this discrimination will cause some individuals who are fortunate enough to get a low premium in the current system to pay higher premiums in the short term, but in return they will get a guarantee of higher quality coverage that can’t be taken away.“The most significant point covered over by the Walker's spin is that comparing the insurance people or small employers can buy on their own today to what will be available under the new law is not an apples-to-apples comparison,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin.“People who are fortunate enough to be young and healthy today might get a good deal from the health insurance industry, but they can lose coverage or be priced out as they age or if they acquire medical conditions. If a small employer has affordable coverage today, one employee acquiring a serious medical condition can price the whole group out of the market.
That is why only a third of small businesses in Wisconsin can currently afford to provide health coverage to their employees.“
“Once national health care reform is fully implemented, consumers will have access to coverage in a new marketplace where the insurance industry cannot take it away or charge discriminatory rates as a person ages or his or her health status changes,” Kraig continued.
“Scott Walker’s cherry picking of the data is an attempt to cover up the fact that health care reform will return control of health care decisions to patients and their doctors, rather than insurance industry bureaucrats, and will guarantee that everyone has a place to go to get quality affordable health coverage.”