As Congress moves Build Back Better legislation forward, closing the Medicaid coverage gap is a top priority for our state so we can make sure 90,000 Wisconsinites have access to high-quality, affordable health insurance.
In the wake of a pandemic that has underscored how important it is for everyone to have access to quality, affordable healthcare, taking action is a no-brainer.
Wisconsinites overwhelmingly support expanding Medicaid coverage, but for a decade we’ve seen Republicans in the Wisconsin State Legislature obstruct every opportunity to do so including earlier this year when we could have not only ensured access to affordable health insurance but could have also realized $1.6 billion in cost savings for our state under President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act.
The federal government can help ensure there’s a pathway to close this coverage gap in states that haven’t fully expanded Medicaid. Without this, it’s clear Wisconsin will continue to face headwind in trying to expand access to affordable healthcare. That’s why Sen. Baldwin has been working to ensure an expansion of affordable health care is part of President Biden’s Build Back Better Framework, and why we support opening the door to quality, healthcare coverage for those who have been locked out by Wisconsin Republicans.
From parents and families to small businesses and workers to caretakers and farmers, making sure healthcare is affordable is an essential part of our economic recovery from this pandemic. People like Jill in Appleton, who’s a small business owner, pays twice as much for health insurance as she does for rent. Or Milwaukee restaurant owner, Melissa, who wants to help get people back to work, but the employee insurance she can afford isn’t good enough, and some of her workers cannot pick up extra shifts without potentially losing their healthcare. Or folks from Fond du Lac like Renee who had to quit her job to care for her son when she couldn’t find a qualified paid caregiver.
In Wisconsin, a parent of two kids who makes $14.50 an hour—barely more than $30,000 a year—lives at 138% of the poverty line and isn’t eligible for Medicaid. In every single one of our neighboring states, they would be. Direct care workers in Wisconsin make an average of $10.50 an hour—many making just a few cents too much to qualify for Medicaid—turn down additional shifts or leave the field of caregiving entirely to find other jobs with better benefits. And without affordable healthcare coverage, Wisconsinites are also less likely to receive preventive care, including behavioral healthcare and substance use disorder treatment, which is critical to improving physical and mental health outcomes and will ultimately save our state more in the long run.
We can’t turn back the clock on the missed opportunities to expand Medicaid over the last decade, but we can do the right thing for Wisconsinites and our economic recovery today. Wisconsin needs Congress to get the job done on closing the Medicaid coverage gap by passing Build Back Better budget legislation. This is about people, not politics. It’s about doing what’s right and making sure our economy can recover from this pandemic. It’s time to guarantee every Wisconsinite has access to quality, affordable healthcare.