Affordable Health Care
While we have high quality health care in Wisconsin, rising health care costs continue to be a top business concern. Offering health insurance has never been more expensive for employers. WMC believes Wisconsin should enact policies to help contain the cost of health care without damaging the high quality we enjoy.
The employer-based health insurance system we currently have is in everyone’s best interest. When it becomes too expensive for employers to provide coverage, workers are often shifted to costly government programs, increasing the financial burden on taxpayers and further threatening provider reimbursements.
Informed health care consumers create a competitive market. Wisconsin should continue down the path of providing access to transparent and easily understood medical cost and quality data to all consumers and payers, enabling informed health care decisions.
The federal transparency rules require hospitals and health insurers to disclose the health care costs. Unfortunately, hospitals have not complied with this regulation. We should support holding hospitals accountable for not complying with the federal transparency law. We should also provide state support for Wisconsin Health Information Organization (WHIO), an all claims database, and require disclosure of health cost information to this database.
Health Savings Accounts, Direct Primary Care and other options allow health care consumers to truly utilize available health care cost and health care quality data in order to make informed choices. The state, private employers and individuals should be encouraged to utilize insurance plans that empower consumers to make decisions based on cost and quality.
Employers that establish onsite or near-site clinics for their employees and their families are able to provide high quality care at a lower cost. We should support tax incentives for employers that provide this benefit to their employees.
The state should oppose efforts to expand Medicaid, and thereby increase the number of Wisconsinites receiving taxpayer-subsidized health insurance, and exacerbate the corresponding cost shift to employees and their health plans. Federal Medicaid dollars will decline over time, leaving state taxpayers responsible to pay for a large unfunded entitlement.
Although often well-intended, mandating specific items that health insurance plans must cover increases insurance costs and should be avoided. This includes stopping legislation that would ban the practice of white bagging, which allows an insurer or an employer to use a specialty pharmacy to ship clinician-administered drugs directly to providers since hospitals are on average marking up these drugs 200-500% over acquisition cost.
Like many industries, the health care industry is facing workforce shortages that will only get worse in the coming years. If not addressed, the quality of care in our state could suffer. As Wisconsin addresses the overall worker shortage and skills gap, attention needs to be given to health care fields to ensure a continuing pipeline of talent.
Allow health care providers to practice at the top of their scope, giving cost effective options for consumers. Highly trained providers, like advanced practice nurses, nurse midwives, and physician assistants, face statutory barriers that do not allow them to practice to the top of their training. In addition, Wisconsin should allow pharmacists direct prescribing authority based on the results of rapid diagnostic tests. Removing unnecessary barriers will allow these providers to do more work across the state, especially in rural areas where we face physician shortages.
The experience with COVID demonstrated that telemedicine can be a very successful way to provide health care to patients across the state. The state should continue to encourage the use of telemedicine, but should leave the price point of telemedicine to the marketplace.
Wisconsin should work to discourage health care services that provide little or no value for patients. These include unnecessary and duplicative tests, branded drugs when generics are available, and unnecessary diagnostics before low-risk surgery. These procedures drive up the cost of healthcare and can expose patients to increased risks for harm.
If you would like to learn more about our stance on health care or have questions, contact Rachel Ver Velde, WMC’s Senior Director of Workforce, Education and Employment Policy.
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