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home : news : news July 22, 2017

7/13/2017 2:06:00 PM
Senator stops by to collect input on healthcare
Brooke Bechen
Reporter/News and Features

"I want to take this out," Deb Victory said as she pulled a gallon sized Ziplock bag full of prescriptions out from an oversized bag she had hidden under the table at the Health and Human Services Building.
"This is what I take every day."
She set the prescriptions in front of Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin, who visited Dodgeville last week to gather input on how the proposed Senate healthcare bill would impact those invited to her roundtable discussion.
Victory shared that she had health insurance until seven years ago when she moved to Wisconsin from Tennessee. She was a patient at the Community Connections Free Clinic (CCFC) upon moving to the area, where she saw Dr. Aaron Dunn, the medical director of the clinic.
Volunteers at the CCFC helped her apply for insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace, where Victory learned she was eligible for Medicaid. She has been on it ever since.
"I have high blood pressure; I have diabetes. I'm scared," she told the senator. "I'm really scared that I could die if I don't have insurance. And I don't understand why they would want to take it away from people."
Victory, who holds two part time jobs, neither of which offer health insurance, is just one of many patients that have visited Dr. Dunn and utilized the free clinic in Dodgeville.
"We basically take anyone who says they cannot access healthcare by any other means," Dr. Dunn said. "The vast majority of people who see us have no health insurance whatsoever."
When changes to the ACA and Badgercare in Wisconsin allowed for 40 percent of the free clinic's patients to either gain Marketplace insurance or become eligible for Medicaid, it was "something we celebrated," Dunn added.
But the amount of patients visiting the clinic has been slowly increasing since then as the clinic sees people falling into gaps in coverage, falling on and off of Badgercare, missing enrollment periods for the Marketplace and ineligibility for private insurance.
He has two main concerns with the current Senate bill being considered, and they both relate to the ability of the CCFC to absorb some of the patients that "may fall victim to the plan." Cuts and caps to Medicaid are of great concern, as they will be a money saver but will also reduce the number of patients in the state that are on Medicaid, Dunn said.
"They are going to have nowhere else to turn but to come to us for their services," he added.
A change in subsidies, essential health benefits and less extensive but less valuable high-deductible catastrophic plans are also of concern to the medical director.
The Community Connections Free Clinic is the only free clinic in Iowa County, and although Dunn believes there is some room to increase capacity, he is concerned the clinic will become overwhelmed.
"We're definitely concerned, and with the loss of the individual mandate, people will just choose not to buy health insurance. So a lot of younger, healthy people will forgo buying insurance, even if it is just a couple hundred dollars a month," Dr. Dunn added.
"And when they need something, they're going to come to us."...
See the rest of the story in the July 13 Chronicle issue.





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