Archives for posts with tag: Badgercare

In perhaps the scariest article yet about Governor Walker’s budget proposals, Shawn Doherty with the Capital Times today drew attention to the fact that under Walker’s budget proposals, healthcare coverage for low-income people would take massive cuts.  This includes cuts to care for some life-threatening diseases such as End Stage Renal Disease and a rare disease called Pseudomyxoma Peritonei.  Without these treatments, Wisconsin residents with these diseases will die, which is probably why, as the Doherty pointedly illustrates, the Governor has requested a  $250,000 increase in funding for “funeral and cemetery aids” for low-income people.  That’s right, in Walker’s Wisconsin, the state will no longer pay for the healthcare that keeps you alive, but it will pay for your funeral, because that’s cheaper.  From the Capital Times:

The governor’s budget steps up payments for funerals for people on Medicaid even as it cuts nearly $500 million from the health programs that serve 1.2 million statewide.

Green, 45, is worried she could be one of them if she loses coverage through the state’s BadgerCare program.

The Manitowoc mom suffers from a rare disease called Pseudomyxoma Peritonei that requires surgeries every couple of years and regular monitoring with CAT scans. Last year, her medical costs totaled $140,000. Without help from the state’s public health programs, she says, she would have died. She still will die if she doesn’t get such help again, Green says. Her tumors are sure to return and require surgery in a year or so. After seven or eight of these operations, she says, the disease is usually terminal.

I am unemployed and have little money, but I am willing to pay more of what I do have if it means keeping people on healthcare that will save their lives.  I think it is wrong and disgusting for a government to prioritize any other spending over programs that protect our most vulnerable residents. Killing people is not a Medicaid efficiency.  Also interesting, according to the Capital Times, Governor Walker is not the only Republican governor to think it’s okay for a state to allow poor residents to die because of other funding priorities:

While kicking people off Medicaid who could die as a result may have once seemed unthinkable, it is happening in Arizona, where Republican Gov. Jan Brewer removed nearly 100 patients from organ transplant waiting lists late last year. (Interestingly, Brewer is now the subject of recall efforts for her defunding of Medicaid, which critics equate to “death panels of the poor.”) At least two of these patients have since died. Last December I wrote a blog post on this Arizona situation titled “Death by Budget Cut,” asking if our Medicaid patients in Wisconsin might face a similar fate.

This is the grimmest addition to what is now a clear pattern of Governor Walker targeting low-income people for budget cutting measures.  In addition to letting poor people die, Governor Walker’s budget proposals could force low-income seniors to lose drug coverage, it cuts family planning services for low-income people, and it puts talented, disabled adults at risk of being institutionalized because the state will no longer pay for the quality care that allows them to stay in their homes.  You may have heard Governor Walker say that his budget doesn’t raise taxes, but some Wisconsin residents will see tax increases under Walker’s budget proposal.  Guess who takes the hit? That’s right, the working poor.  And just yesterday we learned that Governor Walker’s education budget formula favors funding for wealthy districts, while cutting Milwaukee Public Schools (lots of poor kids go there) by 8%. For more details see this list by the Wisconsin Council on Children & Families.

Societies are often judged by how they treat their most vulnerable residents; under Governor Walker’s leadership we will deserve nothing but scorn.

Now that Wisconsin news outlets are shifting back and forth between news of Governor Walker’s anti-worker law, news of his budget proposals and news of elections and recall efforts, I plan to pull together short daily news summaries of keys news items from each day.  As I do almost every day, I will also log all news articles, editorials and other resources in my “Save the State” page for later reference.  I hope you find these resources helpful, but if you have any suggestions to make these pages more meaningful, don’t hesitate to send me an email at duchessofstubb at gmail dot com.

Here are Wednesday’s reasons why Scott Walker and the republican leadership are bad for Wisconsin:

1. School cuts to most districts, except wealthy suburbs of Milwaukee:

That’s right, according to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s analysis, under the formula used by the Governor’s office for his proposed cuts, some of the least-needy districts in the state will avoid any cuts whatsoever.  From the Journal Sentinel:

The Dover School District in Racine County would be the biggest winner in the state with a 17.5% increase. Other local districts that would have gained state aid and their percentages are: Fox Point (4.6%), Mequon-Thiensville (3.2%), Nicolet (2.9%), Pewaukee (7.4%) and Stone Bank (0.7%).

Meanwhile, Milwaukee Public Schools would have seen its aid decrease by 8% and a large number of other school districts would have lost 10% or more of their aid.

Even if your child happens to attend one of the few districts benefiting from this formula, does this seem like a very logical or equitable way to “share sacrifices”? The Governor  gave a news conference today where he touted that districts can off-set his cuts by cutting 10% from their employees’ pay (By the way, this is pretty much the ONLY way districts are allowed to offset these cuts. So much for local control, right). But this was widely disputed by many of the school district representatives who were at the Capitol today but were not allowed to attend the press conference because they would draw attention to the fact that our Governor pretty much lies or misleads any time he opens his mouth.

2. Lawsuits, Lawsuits, and other questionable ethics:

Today Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne filed a civil lawsuit to void Walker’s anti-worker legislation because it was passed illegally in a committee in which republican members knowingly violated state public meeting laws.  There will be a hearing on this lawsuit tomorrow before a Dane County judge.  According to the Journal Sentinel, this judge will on Friday also hear a different lawsuit filed against the Governor by Dane County.

Meanwhile Governor Walker today was forced to settle a joint lawsuit filed by the Isthmus and Associated Press for failing to respond to their public records requests.  Under the settlement Governor Walker will produce the requested records on a CD (so the news organizations are not burdened by printing costs) and will also pay  for the legal fees incurred by the news organizations.  (Actually, the state will pay the legal fees on the Governor’s behalf.)

Finally, Democratic Senators Pocan and Risser today were forced to boycott a different public meeting held by the republican leadership because it was not fully accessible to the public.  The governor claimed afterwards that meeting was fully open, even though key members of the public were not allowed access.

3. Terrible leadership, anti-worker laws causing a massive wave of public service retirements

The Capital Times and Wisconsin State Journal ran similar pieces today on the high amount of public employees retiring because of Governor Walker’s anti-worker measures.  Although the retirements might allow some younger employees to enter the workforce, the sheer amount of retirements will result in a massive  amount of brain-drain in a number of key issue areas.  From the Capital Times:

Despite these short-term assurances, it’s clear from interviews with public employees that the potential for losing benefits in the near future looms large and is one motivation for those heading for the doors. Others are leaving because they are tired of feeling like they have a “target on their backs,” as one put it, and oppose the cuts they fear will hurt the citizens they serve.

As seasoned workers leave, people inside and outside of state government worry about a loss of institutional experience and memory.

The DNR’s Lathrop, for instance, will be hard, if not impossible, to replace, colleagues say.

“Dick is the ‘go-to’ guy regarding lake issues in Wisconsin,” says Ken Potter of the UW-Madison’s department of civil & environmental engineering. “His early retirement is a great loss to the DNR, the University of Wisconsin and the people of Wisconsin.”

From the stories it sounds like many older workers are retiring because the worry about their ability to maintain benefits they planned to retire on.  Others, also feel pushed to retire because programs they helped develop are being undermined or even dismantled by the Walker administration.  One such program is Family Care, which uses innovative approaches to treatments and nursing care to keep adults out of nursing homes.  The program actually saves the state money, but that hasn’t stopped the Walker administration from proposing an eligibility cap that will force people into costly nursing home care.

If you were a public worker who had spent 20 years building a program to cut down on costs and improve services to Wisconsinites, would you want to stick around and watch it fall apart? In addition, losing people who can properly administer public service programs is just another blow to low-income working families in our community.  To learn more, the Wisconsin Council on Children & Families recently released this damning analysis of the effects that Governor Walker’s proposals will have on working families.

People, when are we ready to say that enough is enough?

 

Sewing the seeds for a big season of recalls

In perhaps the most awe-inspiring show of solidarity since Wisconsinites began protesting Governor Scott Walker’s extreme budget measures nearly a month ago, farmers from across the state joined protesters in a tractorcade around the Capitol Square.  It was the start of what would prove to be the largest day yet of protests, despite the Governor signing on Friday his controversial proposal to strip public employees of most union rights.

For the farmers who made it to the capitol, it was not only a chance to show solidarity with the other Wisconsin working families but also an opportunity draw attention to the potential impacts Walker’s  proposals will have on Wisconsin farm families. From the Capital Times:

“This isn’t us versus them, with farmers siding with union employees,” says Scott Schultz, executive director of the Wisconsin Farmers Union. “In rural farm communities, Walker’s budget is hitting home in a number of ways.”

Although unions and collective bargaining have strong roots in the farm industry — the Wisconsin Farmers Union began in the 1930s — Peck says Saturday’s rallies are about more than preserving union rights.

Peck says many of those coming to Madison are upset by the realization that Walker’s agenda is “sacrificing Wisconsin’s quality of life for everyone, not just unions.”

“There are other things going on here. If BadgerCare is wiped out or scaled back, a lot of these people won’t have health care anymore,” Peck says.

Roughly 11,000, or one in seven, farmers and their family members receive health coverage through BadgerCare, according to the Wisconsin Farmers Union.

In additional to sharply curtailed healthcare access, under Governor Walker’s budget proposals rural communities may face a public education crisis.  Governor Walker’s budget cuts hundreds of millions from public education in the state (interestingly, it raises funding for charter and choice school).  But Walker’s budget does not give school districts any tools to increase revenues to offset cuts and instead only allows districts to cut (obviously Walker prefers the cuts to come out of the paychecks of middle-class teachers). But for very rural districts with fewer services and even fewer teachers, it will be hard to find enough to cut without dramatically impacting the quality of education rural students receive.  For a wealthier district, or districts closer to larger cities, it might be possible to consolidate services with other schools to find cuts.  But for rural schools, where students are often already bused for miles to attend a single high school that serves many farm communities, it will also be difficult to find more ways to consolidate without risking rural students’ ability to access comparable services.

Without good school systems, many rural communities may see dwindling populations as those who can afford to move to areas with better services will be far more likely to do so. For the rural students whose parents can not move, it will mean they no longer have access to the same level of education and opportunity as their suburban counterparts. For the hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites, like myself, who descend from Wisconsin farm families and who share a deep passion for preserving Wisconsin’s family farm culture, Walker’s budget proposals will lead to a devastating and potentially irreversible disintegration of the lifestyle that brought our ancestors across oceans to sew Wisconsin’s rich farmland. Walker’s proposals are a betrayal of our fundamental support of rural living and truly shows that his values and not Wisconsin values.

Below are more images from Saturday’s Tractorcade:

4th Generation Badger with this tractor

One little legislator at a time

An "S" and a "Y" spell solidarity

Hope sustains Wisconsin farmers