What the WI Hospital Association wants you to think

The Wisconsin Hospital Association is misleading Wisconsin residents concerned about real health insurance reform with some recent ads. It wants you to think happy thoughts about the state of health insurance in Wisconsin and casts a dark shadow over health insurance reform efforts.’€œEvery child in Wisconsin has access to health care coverage, as do 98% of all state residents. That’€™s better than some reform plans coming from Washington,’€ their ad says.

They compare apples and oranges when they put statistics in Wisconsin up against reform plans in Washington. But it begs the question: what plans in Wisconsin give so many people in Wisconsin health coverage. One answer is BadgerCare’€”a taxpayer financed public health insurance option for low- to moderate -income families. And of course we have Medicare and VA as well. But WHA doesn’€™t mention any of these taxpayer-financed options in either of their recent ads. It simply casts a shadow on the federal public option currently being proposed.

And as a side note, yesterday the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families highlighted new Census Bureau data that indicates ‘€œone in eleven Wisconsin residents lacked health coverage in 2007and 2008’€ in addition to a decline in employer-provided insurance by well over 200,000 persons.

WHA ignores the keystone of the true reform debate: the cost of private health insurance. The tactic of confusing health ‘€œcare’€ reform with health ‘€œinsurance’€ reform is the foundation of the notorious right-wing scare tactics. Whether elected officials and reform leaders articulate it correctly or not, what American needs is a reform of the health insurance industry.

 It’€™s the health insurance industry that has truly crippled families and small businesses across the U.S.. According to the National Coalition on Health Care ‘€œHealth insurance premiums have increased 119 percent for employers since 1999 and employee spending for health insurance coverage (employee’€™s share of family coverage) has increased 117 percent between 1999 and 2008.’€ Rising costs of premiums are the number one reason for small businesses not offering insurance and the number one reason for bankruptcies in the cost of health insurance.

Wisconsin and the U.S. cannot afford the status quo on health insurance reform. Conservatives and special interests have intentionally stood in the way of real reform efforts from the start’€”from Rush Limbaugh’€™s desire to see President Barack Obama fail, to Rep. Joe Wilson’€™s disruption of the President’€™s speech, to the distortions from right-wing groups like Americans for Prosperity. These ads from the Wisconsin Hospital Association do nothing to get us closer to the real health insurance reform we so desperately need.

We need reform and we need it now.

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