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Large Health Insurer Getting Over $12 Million from Walker BadgerCare Decision

Posted by Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Robert Kraig is Executive Director, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, 221 S. 2nd St.,
User is currently offline
on Friday, 17 October 2014
in Wisconsin

anthem-blue-cross-wiSTATEWIDE - According to an analysis by Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Wellpoint Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wisconsin, part of the nation’s largest for-profit health insurance company, will make an estimated $12,785,484 in additional revenue each year because Governor Walker rejected enhanced federal funds for BadgerCare.

On a media call earlier this week Citizen Action of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Democracy Campaign released evidence of a relationship between large insurance industry campaign donations to Scott Walker and the rejection of federal funds for BadgerCare. The data shows that the insurance industry was the biggest beneficiary of the decision to reject the funds for BadgerCare and has made major large campaign contributions to Governor Walker and leading Legislators.

scott-walkerThe estimate of additional revenue for Wellpoint Anthem Blue Cross is based on their market share in the new federal marketplace in Wisconsin, enrollment numbers for former BadgerCare recipients, and the average tax subsidy that each new enrollee will receive from the federal government. It does not include additional premiums paid by individual health insurance consumers.

Lobbying records from the Government Accountability Board show that Wellpoint Anthem Blue Cross lobbied for 159 hours on the part of the state budget related to BadgerCare funding. It also lobbied for 238 hours on implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which could have included expanded BadgerCare eligibility. According to records compiled by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, executives from the company and its subsidiaries donated at least $42,850 to Governor Walker.

“The evidence is clear that the nation’s largest for-profit insurance company benefited substantially from Scott Walker’s disastrous decision to reject federal funds for BadgerCare,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “It disturbing to believe that tens of thousands of Wisconsin families may be either without vital health coverage or paying too much for coverage just so Governor Walker’s campaign contributors can pad their profits.”

Lobbying records released Thursday by Citizen Action of Wisconsin from the Government Accountability Board (GAB) call into question Governor Scott Walker’s blanket denial that the insurance industry lobbied his administration to reject enhanced federal funds for BadgerCare.

Television journalist Greg Neumann of WKOW TV 27 in Madison captured Scott Walker on video stumbling to respond to Citizen Action of Wisconsin’s revelation that insurance industry donations may have swayed his decisions to reject hundreds of millions of federal dollars for BadgerCare.  In the news story, Walker says on camera that “to my knowledge they [the insurance industry] haven’t lobbied me personally or anyone in my administration on this.”

However, lobbying records from GAB show that three powerful insurance industry trade associations and Wellpoint Anthem Blue Cross spend 363 hours lobbying on the part of the state budget related to BadgerCare funding. Wellpoint Anthem Blue Cross spent an additional 238 hours lobbying on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The expansion of BadgerCare is a key part of the health care law.

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State Records Show Insurance Industry Lobbied on BadgerCare

Posted by Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Robert Kraig is Executive Director, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, 221 S. 2nd St.,
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 16 October 2014
in Wisconsin

scott_walkerContrary to Scott Walker's campaign denial that the insurance industry lobbied his administration to reject federal funds for BadgerCare, records show that the Alliance of Health Insurers, Wisconsin Association of Health Plans, America’s Health Insurance Plans, and Wellpoint/Anthem Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Wisconsin spent at least 363 hours lobbying.


STATEWIDE - Lobbying records from the Government Accountability Board (GAB) call into question Governor Scott Walker’s blanket denial that the insurance industry lobbied his administration to reject enhanced federal funds for BadgerCare.

On a media call earlier this week Citizen Action of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Democracy Campaign released evidence of a relationship between large insurance industry campaign donations to Scott Walker and the rejection of federal funds for BadgerCare. The data shows that the insurance industry was the biggest beneficiary of the decision to reject the funds for BadgerCare and has made major large campaign contributions to Governor Walker and leading Legislators.

Television journalist Greg Neumann of WKOW TV 27 in Madison captured Scott Walker on video stumbling to respond to Citizen Action of Wisconsin’s revelation that insurance industry donations may have swayed his decisions to reject hundreds of millions of federal dollars for BadgerCare.

In the news story, Walker says on camera that “to my knowledge they [the insurance industry] haven’t lobbied me personally or anyone in my administration on this.”

However, lobbying records from GAB show that three powerful insurance industry trade associations and one large national for-profit insurance company lobbied substantially on the part of the state budget related to BadgerCare funding.

The records show that Alliance of Health Insurers, Wisconsin Association of Health Plans, America’s Health Insurance Plans, and Wellpoint/Anthem Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Wisconsin spent at least 363 hours lobbying on the section of the state budget that includes BadgerCare funding.

Unlike GAB reporting requirements on individual bills, reporting rules on subjects in the state budget do not require specific disclosure of what position was taken, only what areas of the budget were lobbied.

“Lobbying records certainly cast doubt on Governor Walker’s blanket denial that his administration was lobbied by large insurance interests to reject federal funds for BadgerCare,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “We are very concerned that over 26,000 Wisconsin parents may be going without vital health coverage because of more pay-to-play corruption in the Walker Administration.”

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Where Does Walker Stand?

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 15 October 2014
in Wisconsin

walkerGREEN BAY - Every few days, as I drive over to the Piggly Wiggly in Howard, I pass a yard sign that proudly proclaims “We Stand With Walker”. It’s a Scott Walker campaign sign and I guess it makes these people believe they are heroically standing up against something or other.

Anyway, this morning in my email I received a interesting link from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel entitled Watch live: Walker meets with Journal Sentinel editors, reporters. I wanted to see how Scott Walker answered their questions.

Now, I'm no Walker fan, but at least I was willing to listen. What I heard truly shocked me. I listened to the reporters ask him some fairly specific questions in “Walker on jobs pledge”, “Walker on his abortion stance”, and “Walker on the minimum wage” and saw nothing but a politician intent upon dodging the questions.

Really, where does this guy stand, exactly, on any of these issues? Does he think he should be held accountable on his failure to meet his 2010 pledge to create 250,000 jobs in Wisconsin during his first term? Does he personally believe all abortions should be banned, even in cases of rape or incest, after 20 weeks, or never because its a hard choice? If you don't raise the minimum wage here in Wisconsin, how exactly will everyone get these new higher paid jobs that he says will become available?

I challenge any of my neighbors, who “Stand With Walker”, to listen to these video links and honestly tell me what he and they stand for on each issue.

My parents, proud members of the “Greatest Generation”, born in 1905 and 1912, saw a lot of politicians in their lives and had one major rule - “it doesn't matter what they stand for, so much as that they stand for something”. “Wishy washy” politicians, who you couldn't pin down, were the worst kind.

I listened to these reporters, some of which I know, try to pin Walker down and saw their frustration grow. Is this all we expect of our governor?

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Campaign Contributors Benefited from Walker Rejection of BadgerCare Dollars

Posted by Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Robert Kraig is Executive Director, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, 221 S. 2nd St.,
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 14 October 2014
in Wisconsin

scottwalker-dreamInsurance Companies getting windfall of public dollars also donated big money to Walker and legislators.


Statewide - On Monday morning, Citizen Action of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Democracy Campaign called into question relationship between large campaign donations and the rejection of federal funds for BadgerCare. When Governor Walker rejected federal funds for BadgerCare, an estimated 87,000 Wisconsin residents were forced to purchase private health insurance coverage from the health insurance marketplace. Tens of thousands fell into an entirely unnecessary coverage gap.

The new data shows that the insurance industry was the biggest beneficiary of the decision to reject the funds for BadgerCare, and have donated massively to the campaigns of Governor Walker and Legislators who pushed the policy through.

According to data collected by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, the insurance industry, including insurance agents, have contributed over $1.26 million to Governor Walker from the period between 2009 and 2013. This is over three times more than Governor Jim Doyle received from the industry from 2000-2012. The insurance industry also gave nearly $1 million to State Legislators. The industry contributed over four times as much to Republican members of the State Assembly as their Democratic counterparts, and 2.7 times as much to State Senate Republicans. Data for 2014 is not yet available but experts believe the insurance industry contributions will be substantial.

These campaign contributions are dwarfed by the large financial windfalls for insurance companies resulting from the rejection of enhanced federal BadgerCare dollars. Federal marketplace plans are much more expensive than BadgerCare, and put the insurance industry in a position to profit substantially. Tracking the federal tax credits individuals denied BadgerCare receive instead to purchase private coverage, the data compiled by Citizen Action of Wisconsin shows that Wisconsin insurance companies would receive up to $350 million per year extra in tax credits for individual health policies. This does not include the premiums paid by individual consumers or new small business premiums.

“Many across Wisconsin have been confounded by Scott Walker’s seemingly irrational decision to leave hundreds of millions of federal dollars on the table that could have strengthened BadgerCare,”said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “This data raised the disturbing specter that Walker and conservatives in the Legislature sold out their own constituents for campaign cash from the insurance industry. Leaving tens of thousands of Wisconsin families without health coverage in return for campaign donations is morally repugnant.”

“The question of federal funds for BadgerCare is a clear example of where the public wants one thing, and the insurance companies want another, and unfortunately the insurance companies succeeded in getting their way”, said Mike McCabe, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. “There is a disturbingly high presence of contributions directly to the officials that had the ability to get the industry what it wanted.”

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Is Drug Testing Applicants for Public Programs a Wise Idea?

Posted by Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District
Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District
Kathleen Vinehout of Alma is an educator, business woman, and farmer who is now
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 14 October 2014
in Wisconsin

drug-testGovernor Walker wants to drug test applicants making SNAP (food stamps) and Unemployment Insurance claims. Findings about drug testing in other states including Florida and Tennessee show that drug testing costs far more to implement than was saved. And courts have ruled that drug testing recipients of public benefits without reason to believe the person abused drugs is unconstitutional.


MADISON - “If you require drug testing for unemployment insurance claims are you going to drug test farmers for crop insurance next?” the Colfax farmer asked the candidate.

In several recent legislative forums, local candidates advocated for a proposal to drug test people making Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and unemployment insurance claims.

Is this a good idea?

Unemployment insurance is a program that originated in Wisconsin in 1932. In general, unemployment benefits are financed by taxes paid by employers into the state’s unemployment reserve fund. Both federal and state law governs unemployment insurance.

Wisconsin receives $1.4 billion in unemployment insurance benefits from employer contributions and federal money according to the Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) ‘single’ audit of federal funds paid in 2012-13.

SNAP is a federal program. Wisconsin received $1.2 billion in SNAP funds from Uncle Sam.

In general, people making up to 200% of the federal poverty level can apply for SNAP benefits. This would be a little over $22,000 annual income for an individual who would be eligible for a $200 benefit a month.

The state is responsible for assuring the SNAP program is properly administered. Wisconsin has been rewarded with bonus payments from the feds for improved administrative performance. A 2012 LAB audit led the state to make further oversight improvements including a card trafficking investigation unit and a computer-matching system to assure prisoners don’t receive benefits.

States have proposed drug-testing recipients of public benefits since federal welfare reform in 1996 according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

At least 11 states have some type of law requiring drug testing for certain applicants of public programs. But courts struck down some of these laws.

For example, in 2013 the District Court permanently stopped enforcement of Florida’s law. The court found the law violated the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibiting unreasonable searches.

According to the New York Times, the 2011 Florida law showed few results while it was enforced: only 2.6% of the 4,086 people tested positive for drugs (most often marijuana). The Times reported, “State records showed the requirement cost more money to carry out than it saved.” The Tampa Bay Times reported, in 2012, the program suffered a net loss of $45,780. That’s not counting thousands of hours of staff time to implement and litigation costs to defend the program.

The Florida decision was based on a 2003 Michigan Court of Appeals case. The Court said forcing every Michigan recipient of public benefits to be drug tested without reason to believe the person abused drugs was unconstitutional.

According to NCSL most states use some test of “reasonable suspicion” before requiring a drug test. Most laws apply the requirement to persons applying for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Wisconsin law requires TANF applicants to disclose felony convictions. Those with a felony conviction must take a drug test.

Are people who apply for public programs more likely to use drugs? The answer appears to be ‘No’. According to the Georgetown Law Journal, drug use in the general public is 8.7% compared to the less than 3% found in Florida’s testing of public benefit recipients. ThinkProgress, a current affairs website, reported Tennessee started drug testing in 2014 and found just one user after testing 800 people.

The farmer in Colfax raises an important question about drug testing. A person making an unemployment insurance claim is not too dissimilar from a farmer making a crop insurance claim. In both cases the program is financed with a mix of federal and private money paid into a reserve fund; in both cases the person is without income.

Public programs must be carefully monitored for fraud. Programs must be easy to administer and fraud investigation must be built into administration. With little evidence that those using drugs are disproportionately applying for SNAP and filing unemployment claims, it makes little sense to spend more money on drug testing.

Instead it seems this proposal is one more example of demonizing a certain group of people for political gain. Applying for aid is difficult enough. Asking someone who can’t afford to eat to pee in a cup just adds to the humiliation.

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