State Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) conducted a five hour long hearing Monday on Senate Bill 562, the Healthy Wisconsin AUTHORITY and Plan. For someone who has 25 years of experience helping people finance high-quality (but expensive) health care, I was struck by the theater of the proceedings and paucity of substance.
As just one example, I heard numerous individuals testify as to the "obvious" advantages of spreading risk over a larger pool to achieve lower costs. Over and over we heard about state employees having the best benefits anywhere and lower costs because of the buying power of this large group (260,000 statewide; 70,000 in Dane County alone).
Trouble is, that’s not true. Where was testimony by the insurers (who cover both state employees and those of small business) that would reveal a significant disparity of costs on a per member per month (apples to apples) basis.
Let’s also hear the testimony of impartial actuaries who would more accurately describe the utter predictability of morbity in any group over a thousand or so lives.
I can only conclude there is a reason such experts are not called to testify. It has to be the same reason this bill was reintroduced in the final week of the legislative session to be voted on, I’m sure, without further study and debate. The reason: politics.
Serious people in the private sector are hard at work trying to lower health care costs through hundreds of small steps that take time to bear fruit and can’t be wrapped up into one neat reform sales pitch.
Their efforts are mocked as unverifiable and too little too late.
The real mockery should be reserved for those who think such a complex problem can be fixed in one piece of legislation. And for the utter deception of their sales pitch, they deserve the political results they nurture.
Jon Rauser is president of The Rauser Agency Inc., Milwaukee.