Large Insurers Get Their Way at Joint Finance

May 28, 2015

A group of large insurance companies is backing the controversial changes to the state’s long-term care programs that GOP legislative leaders are proposing. The eight insurance companies in the group accounted for more than $149,000 in campaign contributions between January 2011 and Oct. 20, 2014, to Republican legislators.

The changes to the state’s Family Care and IRIS programs, which serve about 50,000 elderly and disabled individuals who do not live in nursing homes, were made to Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed 2015-17 state budget by the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee on 12-4 party line votes.

The committee’s work on the proposed budget will be considered in June by the Republican-controlled legislature before the budget is sent back to Walker for final approval.

The changes to the state’s long-term care system proposed by both Walker and the committee were opposed by elderly and disability advocacy groups – here, here, here, here, and here – who say the programs are working and an overhaul is unnecessary. Some of the groups say the program changes could eventually force elderly and disabled people to change doctors or the group homes where they live.

The committee’s action drew support from the Alliance of Health Insurers, a Madison-based lobbying group comprised of eight health insurers that claim to control two-thirds of the state’s health insurance market. Those companies and their individual and political action committee contributions between January 2011 and Oct. 20, 2014, to GOP legislators, are:

Humana, $59,785; Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, $29,150; Managed Health Services, $29,000; Delta Dental, $14,000; Wisconsin Education Association Insurance Corp., $6,850; Molina Healthcare of Wisconsin, $6,800; Wisconsin Physicians Service, $1,950; and Unitedhealthcare, $1,900.

The top recipients of the insurers’ campaign cash were the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, which received $25,700, and the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, which accepted $17,450. The committees are used by Senate and Assembly Republican legislative leaders to raise money from powerful special interests to spend on GOP legislative candidates at election time.