Friday, October 4, 2013

Racine County Exec Looking A Bit Defensive On Health Care

From the Lake Co. IL website showing numerous health
insurance enrollment locations.
Racine County Executive, Jim Ladwig, wrote a rather lengthy commentary in today's Journal Times defending the county's record of inner-governmental cooperation and listed several projects the county partners with other municipalities.

(Projects the county gets money to partner with other municipalities - lest one thinks Ladwig is clearing out the petty cash over at his minigolf course to run a truancy reduction program with the school district. Just saying.)

Anyway. The commentary was inspired by one of the JT's recent health care articles that mentioned a disagreement between Racine County and the City of Racine over handling health care exchange requests and implementation.

See, Racine County got $1.6 million to implement Obamacare outreach and the City got nothing. When Ladwig pointed out the City wasn't helping much - the Mayor reminded Ladwig it was the county who is in charge of the health department.

In other words, he got burned buy his own whining...and then got a little defensive about it.

It wasn't just the money that got people to wondering exactly what he was doing as County Executive - it was also Ladwig's assertion that he hoped community groups would step up to help out.

Community groups that haven't gotten any money either.

Why is the money important? Well, in Wisconsin becoming an "entity" or an organization approved to assist people with the exchanges costs money. Becoming a navigator - a certified person able to actually sign people up for the insurance costs a bunch of money - one of the highest rates in the country. Even becoming a certified assistant to help navigators costs money.

Churches and non-profits don't have that kind of cash, even though many are doing their best to help out - that is, if they knew from the county what they needed to do.

No one seems to know how they will get trained. The one training that is scheduled next week in Racine is already full. No one knows when or if there will be another.

If one goes to the Racine County website (which is BTW the worst, most anti-intuitive website imaginable) to try and find out anything at all about what the county is doing on health care - you won't. There is absolutely no information at all.

We even did a search of "health insurance" after clicking and clicking to get to the health services page. We got nothing.

Search came up with random crap, unrelated to the health care exchanges.
We did the same with the Kenosha County website (whose County Executive, Jim Kreuser is a Democrat - Ladwig is Robin Vos' college roomate and current business partner) and at least a search came up with a link to the exchange website. Not so on Racine's.

$1.6 million, kids.

If you go one more county to the south, over the state line into Illinois, the Lake County website is like a different world.

Health care exchange information is part of the rotating banner on their main page. You can even get a map (above) of enrollment locations across the county with addresses, hours, phone numbers and what languages they can provide service.

Racine County currently has none - apart from the largely empty office at the Workforce Development Center which doesn't even have a post-it to say it's there.

Can't find it from their website, can't find it in their own building!

We called down to Kenosha and county workers have been participating in trainings to answer basic questions for weeks. Not so much in Racine.

One can expect to see a difference between Illinois - who wanted to participate in the Affordable Care Act and Wisconsin - whose Governor still thinks it will be repealed. The real test is looking between counties in Wisconsin and the partisan divide is pretty evident.

Ladwig should be defensive about the county's preparedness or lack thereof in implementing Obamacare - because comparatively speaking - he's a disaster - all for the low, low price of $1.6 million.