By Kevin Kane
This week Wisconsin was treated to a survey conducted by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC), showing that the state’s CEOs are seized with uncertainty both about the future of the economy and implementation of the national health reform law. It is regrettable that these supposed “titans of industry” have been reduced to skittish field mice of trade.
Businesses have ample cause to feel uncertain, but not for the reasons identified in the WMC poll. Our elected leaders are putting ideology ahead of the interests of Wisconsinites, and can’t seem to help butting heads with the national government, especially over the goal of guaranteeing affordable, quality healthcare.
I am much more certain. Certain that thanks to the Affordable Care Act my pre-existing condition will no longer subject me to discrimination by insurance companies. Certain that my partner will no longer be charged more for her gender. And I am certain states which have implemented health reform properly are succeeding. But that’s not what we have in Wisconsin. Instead we have a state that rejects billions in federal funds for BadgerCare and pushes tens of thousands to a marketplace he vehemently opposes.
And when it comes to rejecting federal funds for BadgerCare, we have clarity here as well. Leaders know thousands of Wisconsinites will lose out on health coverage and the state will spend millions more to do so. We know large firms can expect to pay higher taxes because of Walker’s BadgerCare decision. And we know that in the states that don’t accept federal Medicaid funds, thousands more are expected to die. Deaths that could have been prevented had we simply accepted the federal funds for BadgerCare.
Conservatives are leading us to fewer covered lives, more state spending, higher business taxes and even more deaths, and for what? To say our state isn’t following Obamacare? Sabotaging the Affordable Care Act and then blaming the law for not working is like pouring sugar in a gas tank and blaming the car for not running. Throughout this process a chorus of voices have spoken out in opposition: leading hospitals in every region of the state, newspaper editorials across the state, Wisconsin Medical Society, Wisconsin Nurses Association, and countless others, have all called for accepting federal funds for Badger- Care; yet it still is not in the current state budget.
We do face uncertainty, but it is not from the Affordable Care Act. It is coming from a Governor whose stance on health reform mirrors closely former Alabama Governor George Wallace’s stance on school integration.
We can accept these federal funds for Badger- Care at any time, and it is morally imperative that we do. To the families in fear of medical bills that threaten bankruptcy, to the hospitals that face mounting uncompensated care because of all the Wisconsin families who cannot afford their medical bills, to the small businesses that will struggle as costs are shifted from the uninsured to them; we will continue to face uncertainty until we accept federal funds for BadgerCare.
Kevin Kane is the healthcare organizer for Citizen Action of Wisconsin, which advocates for quality affordable health care for everyone in Wisconsin.