Influx of Medicaid Dollars Would Spur 10,552 New Jobs.
A report released today says that accepting federal dollars to expand Wisconsin’s Medicaid program would not only bring access to affordable health care to 274,000 Wisconsinites but would also in 2016 alone support more than 10,552 new jobs across the spectrum of the state’s economy.
The report, released jointly by Citizen Action of Wisconsin and the national consumer advocacy organization Families USA, spotlights a wide range of health care and economic benefits that Wisconsin would experience by participating in the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion.
The report is based on the general guidelines for Medicaid expansion under the reform law: While the federal government now pays 60 percent of the cost of the current Medicaid program, it will pay all the costs of expanded coverage the first three years of the program—2014 to 2016—and its share will then only decrease to 90 percent by 2020.
The Medicaid “expansion,” as it is termed, is actually a national standardization of eligibility, raising the qualifying income level to 138 percent of the federal poverty level and making single individuals or couples without children eligible for Medicaid in states where they did not otherwise qualify.
With Wisconsin dealing with an unemployment rate of 6.6 percent in December, a gain of 10,552 new jobs in 2016 is just one of many benefits to the state. The Medicaid expansion would also:
Increase economic activity. The increased federal funding and jobs created are projected to increase economic activity in Wisconsin by $1.3 billion in 2016
•Reduce state spending on state-funded health care programs for the uninsured. Currently, states and localities pay for about 30 percent of the cost of uncompensated care. A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that Wisconsin could save $247 million dollars in uncompensated care costs from 2013 to 2022.
Strengthen the state’s health care system. The Wisconsin Hospital Association says that the state’s hospitals absorbed $580 million in costs for providing charity care to the uninsured. Increasing the number of residents receiving Medicaid would reduce those costs, strengthening the health care system for everyone in the state.
Reduce costs from uncompensated care that are passed on to consumers and businesses. Some of the costs of uncompensated care are also passed along to insurance companies, which in turn raise premiums for businesses and families. In 2008, Families USA calculated that uncompensated care increased family health insurance premiums by an estimated $1,017. By reducing the number of Wisconsinites without insurance, those costs shifts can be reduced.
Increase state revenue. Although tax structures vary from state to state, increasing jobs and business activity generally means more sales tax revenue for states or localities, and more jobs and better-paying jobs also contribute to state income. This increase could help offset the state’s own cost for a Medicaid expansion.
Help Wisconsinites become healthier and more productive. Hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites will now have access to affordable health coverage, an essential step to healthier lives and a gain for Wisconsin.
“The Medicaid expansion is a win-win-win proposition for the people of Wisconsin,” Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA, said today. “It would reduce the number of people who can’t afford health care; it will increase the number of jobs throughout the state; and it will strengthen the state’s economy.”
"It is hard to believe that any responsible leader would turn down the federal Medicaid money to fill the holes in BadgerCare," said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. "In addition to giving hundreds of thousands of low income Wisconsinites the freedom to control their own health care decisions and to get ahead economically, accepting the new federal Medicaid money will also create jobs in the health care industry."
The report used 2016 as a model, its authors say, because, although Medicaid expansion funds will be available to states in 2014, it is expected to take time for enrollment to reach the level where the program’s full economic benefit is revealed.
The full report, “Wisconsin’s Economy Will Benefit from Expanding Medicaid,” is available at http://familiesusa2.org/assets/pdfs/medicaid-expansion/Wisconsin.pdf