UW-Madison healthcare expert says how Senate health bill could a - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UW-Madison healthcare expert says how Senate health bill could affect people in Wisconsin

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Senate Republicans release the "Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017" Thursday Senate Republicans release the "Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017" Thursday

MADISON (WKOW) --- A number of medical groups are coming out against the Senate health care proposal.

Republican senators released the "Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017" Thursday. And already groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Association of American Medical Colleges said they have problems with the bill. AARP is also calling on every senator to vote against it.

If approved, the senate version would have a significant affect on people in Wisconsin.

The bill would do away with Affordable Care Act mandates and create a new system of federal tax credits to help people buy health insurance, while offering states the ability to drop many of the benefits required by the Affordable Care Act.

Healthcare expert Donna Friedsam said it isn't a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

“The basic things that it has are in elimination of all the ACA mandates, most of the ACA mandates, and most of the ACA taxes. But it retains the Obamacare basic structure of having tax credits for people to purchase insurance coverage and purchasing them through exchanges. So in that way it's not a full repeal and replacement of Obamacare,” she said.

“But actually a fairly significant change in the way Obamacare would be delivered. So it changes the tax credit structure, provides different amounts of funding for people to purchase their insurance. But it still provides tax credits for people. And the tax credits are based on income as well as on age.”

Friedsam said those who depend on Medicaid and lower-income people will be affected the most.

“With regards to Medicaid, one in five people in our state depend on the Medicaid program. And that includes not only low income families with children, which is what people typically think of is the Medicaid population, but the elderly in nursing homes relying on some kind of long-term care, disabled people, and childless adults, a number of other people who rely on the Medicaid program in our state. So about 1.2 million people are connected to Medicaid in our state. The changes in Medicaid in the senate bill will have substantial affects on those populations as well.

Wisconsin's Republican Senator Ron Johnson voiced his opposition to the bill.

"I'm going to need enough time to find out exactly what's in the bill and to determine if this is a continuous improvement from where we are today,” Johnson said.

Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin issued a statement saying in part:

“For Wisconsin families struggling to get ahead, this repeal plan has no heart and people are scared that it will make things worse. It will make families pay more for less care and increase the number of people who are uninsured. The guaranteed protections and care that you have today are weakened and now, politicians in Madison will decide whether you keep the care you have, or whether it is taken away.”

Friedsam said what many people may not know about the bill is that even if you get your insurance through your employer, the bill will have an effect on your coverage.

“I think it's important for people to understand that the bill, while it's kind of packaged as in Obamacare repeal and replace bill, it will indeed affect the 7% of the population that participates in purchasing plans through the Obamacare marketplace. It will substantially affect the 20% of the population in the state that is connected to Medicaid,” Friedsam said.

“But it will also affect everybody in our state who has any kind of health insurance. Because there are provisions in the bill that would allow states to potential wave certain insurance regulations related to the caps in annual and lifetime limits and the likes. So you and I have health insurance through our employers. And there are potential ways through the senate bill that some of the benefits that we get through employer could have new caps added to it, the caps in coverage. So that we wouldn't get the full coverage that we currently have for those benefits. And a lot of people are not aware that that is part of what is being contemplated within the bills that up before Congress now,” she said.

Friedsam also said the Affordable Care Act has been “very successful” in Wisconsin.

“And this differs then what you hear in national news. There are some states where health insurance companies have not been doing as well and have been pulling out of the market. But in Wisconsin, we've had a significant number of health insurance companies that have been offering products. And while we've had a couple that in recent days announced their departure from the market, we still have, I believe, 13 health insurance carriers that are still planning on providing coverage and products through the marketplace, through the affordable care act or whatever marketplace emerges within the next year,” Friedsam said.

“So we've had a pretty robust experience under the Affordable Care Act in Wisconsin. How they're going to react under changes depends on what kinds of certainties they have that the bill that becomes law will bring enough customers into the marketplace and keep them covered,” she said.

Friedsam said one in five people in Wisconsin depend on medicaid. Under the senate plan, the state would lose about 25% of it funding for Medicaid. The state would have to make that up by eliminating people from the program, reducing services, or generating revenue to pay for it.

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