Christian Schneider

Author, Columnist

If It’s Broken, Let’s Break it More

Last week, I wrote a commentary detailing how, rather than keeping health care costs down, government programs usually grow much more rapidly than expected.  As an example, I used the BadgerCare program, which, after implementation in 1997, grew much faster than anyone anticipated.  Within several years, the Legislature had to start scaling back benefits in order to keep the program going after membership in the program doubled in the span of 6 years.

Today, we get news that Governor Doyle’s new “BadgerCare Plus” program is suddenly short on cash.  As a result, new registrants to the program will be suspended, leading to waiting lists of up to 20,000 people, by Doyle’s own estimate.

Ironically, this rationing of government health care leads Doyle to the head-scratching conclusion that somehow what we need is MORE government health care:

The heavy demand for the program over the last 3½ months highlights the need for national health care reform, Doyle said.

“I believe we must make sure that people have health insurance,” Doyle said. “We have done everything we can in Wisconsin. We have stretched all boundaries and still there are people falling through the cracks.”

So on the SAME DAY he announces his own health care rationing, Doyle calls for even more of the same, only at the federal level.  As if this new federal program would contradict the evidence that his own state program has provided us – that such a program would do nothing to keep costs down, and only serve to drain citizens of their tax dollars.  This is like arguing that the problem with the corrupt Wisconsin Shares program is that it isn’t adequately funded.

3 Comments

  1. This is an easy one. Lets be non-partisan here. The Gov is an outgoing one, from that perspective does anything else matter? Identical repercussions rippled through the American economy as our last national CEO spent recklessly on Vietnam, I mean afghanistan. Lets spend until the next administration is here. The state however is faced with shrinking revenues for years to come, the fed can always print bonds and sell them as derivatives…

  2. I think your conclusion is the headscratcher. “More people need public health insurance than we thought. Ergo, we don’t need public health insurance?”

    Next time, try not to let the ideology get in the way of the facts.

  3. You’re mixing apples and boulders, here. There are very real costs (just not immediate ones to the State’s current year budget) if we have persons that cannot obtain regular health care and cannot qualify for BadgerCare: healthcare at very expensive emergency rooms for sick people who have no other option, minor healthcare problems escalated into debilitating or life threatening ones because of healthcare foregone, worktime or jobs lost because of preventable illnesses treatable illnesses that were not treated. It is those costs (most of which will be ultimately born by us as taxpayers, employers or healthcare insurance premium payers) that must be compared to the cost of the State assisting to provide coverage now. Your article’s premise ignores those real costs or assumes without any evidence that they are negligible or should be ignored. Your article’s logic explains why the US spends a much larger amount on healthcare and related insurance costs than almost anywhere on earth, but has relatively poor performance on measures of public health compared to most industrialized nations.

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