Walker Takes $120,000 from Health Industry, Opposes End to Health Insurance Stranglehold

Publicly Opposed Coverage for Children, Pregnant Mothers, Uninsured Adults

MADISON, Wis. — Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker has strongly opposed measures to provide more Wisconsin children, pregnant mothers and uninsured adults have affordable health care, at the same time taking more than $120,000 in campaign contributions from the health care industry in just the last six months alone.

“The health insurance industry knows they have a loyal ally in Scott Walker to keep health insurance profits skyrocketing at the expense of Wisconsin families,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “Given Scott Walker’s record, big health’s overwhelming support for him is hardly surprising.”

A review of Walker’s most recent campaign finance report shows his campaign took over 250 contributions in amounts over $200 from individuals in the health industry for a total of more than $120,000. The analysis does not include contributions $200 and under, meaning the total amount of health industry contributions would likely rise even higher.

Walker’s efforts to prevent affordable health care access for all has taken numerous forms, including:

  • Walker wants high-deductible private health savings accounts, which would do nothing to increase access to health care, nor reduce costs to Wisconsinites. Instead they would provide a steady stream of profit to health insurance companies. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 11/10/09]
  • Walker inherited the successful Milwaukee County General Assistance Medical Program, which helped approximately 30,000 county residents not qualifying for Medicaid or who could not afford private health insurance. GAMP was under threat from Walker and he proposed in 2005 to wipe out funding for it entirely. GAMP has been folded into the BadgerCare Core Plus program, where it is currently protected from Walker cuts. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 8/25/05]
  • Walker sided with the big health insurance companies over patients by voting in the state legislature to allow insurance companies to deny coverage to women for mammograms, pap smears, and breast reconstruction surgery, as well as coverage for maternity care. [AB 63, Seq. No. 253, 10/6/99]
  • Walker voiced repeated opposition to two consecutive state budget plans, which improved BadgerCare access and put Wisconsin on the path to having health care coverage for 98 percent of all Wisconsinites. Over 54,000 more Wisconsinites have health care access due to the most recent budget alone. In an October 20o9 interview on Madison television, Walker “said he thinks BadgerCare has become an entitlement program, rather than temporary assistance.” [WISC-TV, 10/09/09]
  • Walker joined Sarah Palin in the outrageous call for states to reject federal Recovery Act funds. To date, Wisconsin has received a $1.2 billion increase in Medicaid funding through the Recovery Act, allowing 160,000 more children and adults access to BadgerCare health services. BadgerCare programs will ensure 98 percent of Wisconsinites have access to health care.

Walker’s opposition to BadgerCare is particularly troubling, given that BadgerCare programs aid children, pregnant mothers and childless adults, many of whom have jobs, but who do not receive employer-provided health insurance. BadgerCare Plus Core, which began in 2009, allows low-income, childless adults earning less than 200% of the federal poverty line ($21,660 single, $29,140 for married couple) to be eligible for health care. Over 1 million Wisconsinites currently access Medicaid services in the state.

With Wisconsin already facing a $2-billion budget deficit for 2011-13, Walker has called for a series of irresponsible tax breaks that overwhelmingly benefit the rich and corporations, which would both dig another $2-billion deficit hole, but require drastic cuts in programs such as BadgerCare.

“Scott Walker opposes current BadgerCare programs and needs to find $2 billion for his reckless tax cuts for the rich and $2 billion for the deficit,” said Ross. “You don’t have to be a math major to calculate Scott Walker thinks BadgerCare should be on the chopping block.”

Walker’s tax plan would take $2 billion out of the state treasury over two years to slash taxes for solely the top one percent income earners; reopen the Las Vegas Loophole corporate tax shelter; restore capital gains tax cuts and end tax on all retirement income, regardless of income. According to figures from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the combined state cost over two years would be at least $1.85 billion.

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