Assembly health care, take two
In my post yesterday about health care and the Assembly Republicans, I mixed up two health care bills. Rep. Huebsch is upset the Farm Bureau is going to consider supporting the Wisconsin Health Plan introduce by Rep. Gielow and Rep. Richards(AB1140), not the WI Health Care Partnership Plan (SB698) introduced by Senator Decker and Rep. Terry Musser.
The message is the same though. Bipartisan groups of legislators, outside groups, and Wisconsin families all want to see radical reform on health care and the Assembly Republicans should get in the game instead of trying to stop debate on the issue.
Former Senator and DHFS Secretary Joe Leean has a response (below) for Rep. Huebsch too that explains how Huebsch is misleading everyone on the LFB report he mentioned in his letter to the Farm Bureau. And Seth also has a good examination of the LFB report and agrees with Leean that Huebsch is wrong.
December 6, 2006
Assembly Speaker Elect
Representative Mike Huebsch
Dear Speaker Elect Huebsch,
I was very surprised and extremely disappointed to see your letter to the Farm Bureau Membership attempting to forestall their support for the Wisconsin Health Plan.
Your statements are at best misleading and at worst inaccurate. Furthermore, it seems very strange you would try and derail a bi-partisan effort which has spent two years developing a proposal which would address an issue so important to our citizens.
The Wisconsin Health Plan is very comprehensive and still a work in progress. But without public support from groups like the Farm Bureau and others, effective health care reform will never be accomplished by anyone - including the legislature.
You call the Wisconsin Health Plan the largest tax increase in Wisconsin history on small businesses without telling people that it replaces the premiums they are paying for basic health insurance - or would like to pay for health insurance if they could buy a group policy like state employees and other large groups enjoy.
During the recent campaign cycle, opponents of comprehensive health insurance reform made the same misleading statements as they targeted ads against some legislative candidates accusing them of supporting a health care plan which would amount to a $12 billion new tax in Wisconsin. Their ads also were not honest as they did not inform the public that this assessment/tax would replace existing spending on health care insurance and health care spending. As you no doubt know, every candidate they targeted with these ads won their seat regardless of the misleading ads.
You also misinterpret the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) memo by suggesting the LFB determined the plan to be $8.7 billion short the first year. I've carefully read the Fiscal Bureau paper. It does not say anything close to what you claim. The Fiscal Bureau was simply pointing out that there is clearly a great deal more spending on health care in Wisconsin than what is currently covered by health insurance or would be covered by a basic health care insurance program.
As the LFB memo suggested and as we all know, another actuarial analysis of total health care spending and the relative accuracy of the Wisconsin Health Care Plan's numbers is needed. The bi-partisan group working on this plan is in the process of contracting for that analysis.
I would hope you would embrace the effort of legislators and representatives of the public as they continue to fine tune a plan to provide health care coverage for all Wisconsin citizens. This plan also has the potential to save the state hundreds of millions of dollars, significantly reduce the property tax spending on local government health care costs, be managed by the private sector and provide individual choice of health care provider.
If the numbers don't work after final analysis, the plan will fail on its own. But let us be honest about the "Billions of Dollars of New Tax" – that it is in fact replacing dollars currently being spent on health care while giving everyone health care insurance they can afford.
Former State Senator and Secretary DHFS