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Wisconsin sees drop in uninsured since implementation of Obamacare
HEALTH CARE

Wisconsin sees drop in uninsured since implementation of Obamacare

Wisconsin has made gains in insuring its residents since the Affordable Care Act became the law of the land, but Gov. Scott Walker’s decision not to expand Medicaid has left the Badger state trailing some of its neighbors, according to the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families.

Looking at newly released Census data, the advocacy group found that the state’s uninsured population dropped by 100,000 last year, when the first parts of the federal health care reform law — including Medicaid expansion and access to federally subsidized health insurance thorough health care “marketplaces” — went into effect.

Nationally, there were 8.5 million fewer uninsured.

Jon Peacock, WCCF research director, said that the Census data released last Wednesday reflect only part of the gains in insurance coverage since the beginning of 2014 because the data is gleaned from monthly surveys rather than end-of-the-year totals.

“The gains in insurance coverage were very impressive last year, but the effectiveness of the health care reform will be even clearer next year when we get the data for 2015,” he said in a press release.

While Wisconsin, which historically has lower uninsured rates than the national average, ranked seventh lowest in 2014 with 7.3 percent uninsured — compared with 9.1 percent in 2013 — Minnesota and Iowa, which expanded Medicaid coverage, had rates of 5.9 and 6.2 respectively.

Obamacare, formally the Affordable Care Act, allows states to expand Medicaid coverage to childless adults up to 138 percent of the poverty level. Walker rejected federal money to allow that expansion in Wisconsin. Walker instead expanded eligibility in April 2014 to all adults up to the poverty level, but tightened eligibility for parents, which forced about 60,000 adults off BadgerCare, the state’s Medicaid program. Those adults, Walker maintained, could find insurance on the Obamacare marketplace exchanges.

According to WCCF, Wisconsin disqualifies a single mother with one child if her income is more than $7.66 per hour.

Peacock said that the 24 states — along with the District of Columbia — that expanded Medicaid last year saw an average 25 percent reduction in uninsured people, compared with 13 percent in states that didn’t expand coverage.

“Wisconsin’s uninsured rate would be considerably lower if we joined the majority of states who have expanded Medicaid to all adults up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level,” he said. 

Wisconsin’s uninsured rate would be considerably lower if we joined the majority of states who have expanded Medicaid to all adults up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Jon Peacock,
research director for Wisconsin
Council on Children and Families

"Wisconsin’s uninsured rate would be considerably lower if we joined the majority of states who have expanded Medicaid to all adults up to 138% of the federal poverty level."

- Jon Peacock, research director for Wisconsin Council on Children and Families

JON PEACOCK

Steven Elbow joined The Capital Times in 1999 and has covered law enforcement in addition to city, county and state government. He has also worked for the Portage Daily Register and has written for the Isthmus weekly newspaper in Madison.