Despite Pence’s Claims, the ACA Has Had a Huge Positive Effect in Wisconsin

Vice President Pence is headed to Milwaukee this Saturday in an attempt to build support for repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The Vice President and Governor Walker plan to put a spotlight on a few Wisconsinites who are unhappy with the ACA, but let’s look at the larger picture and consider the many ways that hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites are benefiting from the law.

It is especially important to keep in mind that from 2013 to 2015, after some of the key portions of the ACA took effect, the number of uninsured Wisconsinites fell by almost 200,000, a drop of nearly 40 percent.

The Pence visit is an effort to vilify the ACA and create support for the House repeal legislation called the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which is now being considered in the Senate. That bill, which was narrowly approved by the House, would repeal or threaten many popular provisions of the ACA, including protections for people with preexisting conditions.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, AHCA would cause 23 million Americans to lose their health insurance. And the House bill goes well beyond changing the ACA by also making deep cuts to Medicaid, which covers nearly 1.2 million Wisconsinites – including one in three kids and half of people with disabilities.

To provide some context for Pence’s visit and the assault on the ACA, let’s look at what’s at risk in our state if the ACA is repealed. A WCCF fact sheet summarizes some of the key gains in Wisconsin from the ACA, including the following:

  • More than 240,000 Wisconsinites signed up for Marketplace insurance plans in 2017, and 81% of them receive tax credits to help cover the cost of their premiums.
  • All insurance plans must now provide coverage for pre-existing medical conditions. It’s estimated that up to 2.5 million people in Wisconsin have a pre-existing health condition.
  • Insurers can no longer place annual or lifetime spending caps on covered benefits, so all Wisconsinites with individual or employer plans now have coverage that’s there when they need it.
  • The ACA has increased access to preventive and screening services like cancer screenings, flu shots, and contraception without cost sharing. This benefits an estimated 2.8 million Wisconsinites with private insurance plans, and about 1 million seniors benefit from similar ACA changes to Medicare.

The American Health Care Act would cause sharp increases in the number of uninsured Wisconsinites, restrict services for people who are covered by Medicaid, increase out of pocket costs for people who buy insurance on the individual marketplace, and lead to much higher  uncompensated care costs that hospitals would need to shift to their insured patients.

Read more in WCCF’s brief fact sheet about the benefits of the ACA. We’ve also prepared a report that examines the likely impacts from Senate passage of the House bill to repeal the ACA, and includes county-level data on the people who are benefiting.

William Parke Sutherland and Jon Peacock