Each year, the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation release County Health Rankings (http://
countyhealthrankings.org), which assess nearly every county in the country based on such factors as childhood poverty rate, smoking, obesity, teen birth rates, access to physicians and dentists, and many other health measures. Using this information, leaders can see where their communities are doing well.
One of the most basic ways to improve is to increase access to care by reducing the number of people without health insurance. Right now, we’re in the midst of a critical policy debate about how Wisconsinites are going to get health coverage — specifically, whether or not to accept federal dollars made available by the Affordable Care Act to provide BadgerCare to low-income adults.
Unfortunately, the state budget proposed by Gov. Scott Walker and approved by Joint Finance rejects the additional federal Medicaid dollars. It makes one group of adults — those below the poverty line and without children — eligible for BadgerCare, but disqualifies another group is eligible for coverage: parents above the poverty line but still low-income. They expect these parents to buy insurance through the “exchanges” being developed. But these exchanges are not designed to serve this population and realistically, we know that many low-income parents will simply not be able to afford coverage in the private marketplace. The result would likely be more uninsured people, and higher costs to the state.
Explore the County Health Rankings interactive website yourself and see how well your county is doing. Then communicate to your legislators what you think they should do about the Medicaid funding, and whether we should take this simple step forward to help your county be the healthiest it can be.
on Children and Families