In his May 17, 2019 e-Update, Budget Bulletin I, State Sen. Howard Marklein (17th Senate District) addressed the Republicans’ removal of the Medicaid expansion from the budget. The Medicaid expansion was designed to help people in the 100-138 percent range of the federal poverty level, earning about $12,140 to $17,200. They neither qualify for BadgerCare (Wisconsin’s Medicaid program) nor can afford good health care coverage in the private marketplace.

Sen. Marklein defended this Republicans action by stating that Wisconsin has “some of the best insurance coverage in the country” and does not have a “coverage gap” for people who fall within the group the Medicaid expansion was designed to cover. He stated that this group of Medicaid citizens “are eligible for very affordable private health insurance” in the Affordable Care Act marketplace.

These statements seriously distort the truth. For example: A recent study of the cost of addiction treatment drugs found that people who would otherwise be eligible for Medicaid under the expansion will pay as much as 72 times more for opioid addiction drugs under the Affordable Care Act’s private insurance marketplace than they would under BadgerCare – a clearly unaffordable amount for low income citizens.

The opioid epidemic is higher in Wisconsin than the national average and is rising. The Republicans’ refusal to include the very popular Medicaid expansion in the budget leaves these people out of any treatment possibility. Sen.  Marklein is dead wrong when he says private health insurance for low income people is “very affordable.”

Lee D. Van Landuyt, Hillsboro

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