Thursday, June 22, 2006

Where Does Mark Green Stand on Health Care?

Governor Doyle is criss-crossing the state to talk up his BadgerCare Plus proposal that would provide health care coverage to all children and many others in Wisconsin and also reduce administrative costs of state-sponsored health care programs to the tune of $20 million per year.

But where is Mark Green on the issue of health care reform in Wisconsin?

While Wisconsin is one of the better states in the country in terms of ensuring residents have access to health care, there are still cracks in the system that will only get bigger if they're not handled soon.

A recent Department of Health and Family Services (DHFS) report (see page 10) showed that at the end of 2004, approximately 377,000 Wisconsinites had no health care coverage, including around 55,000 children. And perhaps more alarming is that the number is increasing from year to year. For instance, the number of people uninsured for the entire year increased by around 50,000 between 2003 and 2004 alone.

The DHFS report also found (see page 15) that a significant number of people are under-insured in Wisconsin. Out of those people who had employer-sponsored insurance in 2004, for example, 19% had only some of their preventive care services covered while 3% had none of those services covered.

Businesses in Wisconsin are also looking for health care relief. According to a recent Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce survey, health care costs were tagged as the number one concern of member companies, receiving 82% more votes than taxes.

According to an article in the Racine Journal Times today, Mark Green supports "private sector solutions" for health care in Wisconsin.

That really doesn't give us much information, and neither does a search of other newspaper sources. A LexisNexis search for "Mark Green" and "health care" in Wisconsin newspapers over the past year turns up 18 unique articles and not one of them discusses a plan for health care that Green has proposed or even discussed.

His campaign's "Green Sheet" is equally unhelpful. In all of the issues on his campaign website, which date back to May 10, 2005, health care is rarely mentioned and not once is an actual proposal outlined or even remotely discussed.

That leaves us with Green's campaign website, which features a section on health care.

Outlined on the site are traditional GOP responses to health care, featuring Health Savings Accounts and caps on medical malpractice awards. HSAs essentially shift health costs from employers to employees (see here and here), and the most that can be done with them in Wisconsin is allow people to use the funds as a state tax write off -- hardly the makings of significant reform.

Regarding medical liability, Wisconsin already has a law capping malpractice awards, which -- considering the health care issues currently facing the state -- demonstrates they do nothing to help the uninsured or keep overall health care costs down (see here and here for more).

Two other topics discussed on the site are a Co-op Care Program and Association Health Plans. Interestingly, the Co-op Care Program in Wisconsin was signed into law in March by Governor Doyle. And Association Health Plans are part of a federal bill (which Green didn't cosponsor but did vote for) that's currently making its way through Congress -- a bill that, unfortunately, reduces health benefits and coverage for employees and has the added effect of actually increasing costs, according to Congressional Budget Office and actuarial reports.

All in all, the little that can be found pertaining to Green's stance on health care reform is mostly in existence and the rest is narrow or undefined.

So what exactly does Mark Green propose for Wisconsin's health care system?


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home