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Wisconsin needs affordable health care

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, is insurance-based health care legislation designed to improve Americans' access to medical care at lower costs.

Some of its components are: Get everyone in the insurance pool by requiring insurance with the individual mandate; help low-income folks pay for insurance with government subsidies; expand Medicaid eligibility to very low-income populations; let children stay on parents' plans until age 26; require insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions; and make participating insurance companies provide decent plans with minimum coverage, no hidden exclusions and no lifetime spending limits.

States that successfully implemented the ACA-supported health care navigators in outreach and education efforts and had state insurance officials perform robust insurance rate reviews, resulting in better enrollment and lower insurance rates.

Since 2011, Wisconsin legislators in power took actions to oppose and sabotage the ACA, resulting in higher health insurance costs in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin's Legislature took one small step in 2018 to lower health insurance rates, apparently hoping this will help get them re-elected this November. Wisconsin received federal approval in July to set up a reinsurance program to reimburse insurers who cover high-cost customers.

Consumer Reports estimates Wisconsin's 2019 average ACA monthly premium at $549, which is 3.5 percent lower than 2018 premiums.

Minnesota, whose governor and legislature cooperated in implementing the ACA from the start, will have a 2019 average ACA monthly premium of $354, an 8 percent drop from 2018. Minnesota set up their reinsurance plan in 2017, resulting in rate drops two years in a row.

The nonpartisan Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates that because Wisconsin refused the ACA's full expansion of Medicaid, Wisconsin lost $1.07 billion in federal Medicaid funding from 2014 through 2019 — tax dollars we paid in to the federal system, but we will never get back.

The U.S. House's 50-plus votes to repeal/defund/dismantle the ACA without offering up a better replacement, the Wisconsin attorney general's lawsuit to invalidate the ACA and policies undermining the ACA all hurt Wisconsinites every day.

Contact your state and federal legislators to ask them to support policies and enact legislation that will make health care insurance, drugs and doctor and hospital bills more affordable for all of us.

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