Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Health Care Industry Goes After Revenue Amendment

In the last two days, numerous health care organizations from around the state have spoken out against the proposed amendment to restrict public revenue in Wisconsin.

The following organizations have taken part in these formal statements (see here, here, and here): the Wisconsin Nurses Association, the Community Alliance of Providers of Wisconsin, Rehabilitation for Wisconsin, the Residential Services Association of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Assisted Living Association, the Wisconsin Personal Services Association, the Wisconsin Hospitals Association, the Wisconsin Association of Health Plans, the Wisconsin Medical Society, and the Wisconsin Health Care Association.

There are a variety of concerns expressed in these statements about the negative effects of the revenue amendment on health care in Wisconsin. What they all have in common is that they demonstrate the positive impact public money has in the state.

Proponents of the revenue amendment often make it out like public revenue (although they prefer the term "taxes") vanishes down a black-hole once the government collects it.

As the opposition to restricting public revenue from the above organizations (among others) shows, this couldn't be further from the truth. Public revenue not only helps to drive the economy in the state, it also helps to support the basic needs of citizens across Wisconsin. Health care is certainly one of those basic needs.

Another commonality among the various statements by health care groups opposing the revenue amendment is the acknowledgement that the ill effects on the quality of health care in Wisconsin is not the intent of the amendment.

This is exactly why fiscal policy should not be written into the state constitution. There is simply no judicious way to account for the complexities that arise year to year in budgeting, nor is there any way to include the flexibility necessary for fiscal policymaking without creating loopholes in the amendment that conservative proponents just won't tolerate.

The list of groups and individuals who have released statements against this amendment is dwarfing the list of supporters. There isn't a major newspaper in the state that has written something positive about the amendment. The public hearings on the amendment are such PR nightmares for the authors that they have decided to not even invite the media or the public in some cases. An anti-amendment Democrat just beat a pro-amendment Republican in one of the state's conservative strongholds yesterday. It's also looking less and less likely that this amendment will even come up for a vote in the state legislature this year.

Need we continue?

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