MON AM News: Wisconsin individual market health insurance rates to fall 3.2 percent in 2020; New SWIGG study finds water quality issues

— Gov. Tony Evers has announced 2020 premium rates for Wisconsin’s individual health insurance market will be 3.2 percent lower on average than rates for this year. 

This is the second year in a row rates have gone down, according to the Wisconsin Hospital Association, following a decrease of 4.2 percent for 2019. 

In a release, Evers connects the lower rates to the state’s reinsurance program, the Wisconsin Healthcare Stability Plan.  

“This is an important step forward as we work to make quality healthcare more affordable for Wisconsin’s families, and it is encouraging to see rates continuing to stabilize after years of rate increases and market instability,” Evers said Friday. “The WIHSP is working.” 

WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding says the state’s individual insurance market would have seen a 9 percent premium increase without the reinsurance program. The program was first enacted in February 2018 under former GOP Gov. Scott Walker and fully funded in the most recent state budget. 

“While coverage does not always equate to access to care, promoting competition in our insurance market ensures that patients and employers can choose the best plan for their families and protects access to high-quality, high-value health care in Wisconsin,” Borgerding said in a statement. 

The release from Evers’ office notes the state’s individual market was unstable before 2019, “with insurers leaving the market, reduced coverage areas, and double-digit premium increases.” 

See more: 

— The latest report from the Southwest Wisconsin Groundwater and Geology study finds more than 90 percent of wells in Grant, Iowa and Lafayette counties that previously tested positive for coliform bacteria contained fecal matter.  

Coliform bacteria are microorganisms found in the feces of humans and other warm-blooded animals. 

“These latest results are clear: many residents in Southwest Wisconsin are drinking contaminated water that puts their health at risk,” said Scott Laeser, water program director for Clean Wisconsin. “Results like these confirm that lawmakers need to move quickly to find solutions that get residents clean, safe drinking water in Southwest Wisconsin.”

Researchers found that of the 35 wells that tested positive for coliform bacteria or nitrate above 10 parts per million in previous sampling rounds, 32 recently tested positive for fecal matter from cows, pigs or humans. They also found dangerous pathogens in drinking water such as Salmonella, that can cause fever and serious stomach problems. 

According to Laeser, this contamination can be odorless and tasteless while still presenting a major health risk. 

“This is a multifaceted problem that needs an all-of-the-above approach by lawmakers,” he said in a release. “Tackling only septic system leaching or farm runoff — and not both — is an approach that will fail to fully solve the problem.” 

See the release: 

See more on the SWIGG study: 

— Wisconsin is lagging behind other states on tobacco control policies, according to the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network. 

A recent report from the organization rates states in eight public policy areas related to decreasing cancer rates. Of those, Wisconsin has met the group’s benchmarks for evidence-based policies and best practices for just two: cigarette tax rates, and smoke-free laws. 

The report says Wisconsin is making moderate progress toward its benchmarks for pain policies and Medicaid coverage of tobacco cessation services. And it says the state is falling short on increasing access to Medicaid and palliative care, as well as for policies related to indoor tanning. 

Sara Sahli, Wisconsin government relations director for ACS CAN, says 34,220 Wisconsinites will be diagnosed with cancer this year.

“We owe it to them — and to everyone at risk of developing this disease — to do everything in our power to prevent cancer and improve access to screenings and treatment,” Sahli said. “This report provides lawmakers a legislative path forward.”

See the state-level reports: 

See the Wisconsin release: 

— The state Department of Health Services is highlighting new cases of lung disease in young adults and teenagers who reported using e-cigarettes. 

DHS has identified 11 cases of “severe lung disease” linked to vaping, and says seven other potential cases are under investigation. 

“We are currently interviewing patients, all of whom reported recent vaping,” said DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “Our disease investigators continue to gather information about the names and types of vape products that were used in hopes of determining a common link.” 

In the meantime, DHS is warning people to avoid these products as the investigation continues. 

Afflicted patients are experiencing shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, cough and weight loss, according to a release. Some patients have needed help breathing, and while patients have benefited from treatment, it’s unknown whether they will experience long-term impacts on their health. 

Counties with confirmed cases include Door, Racine, Walworth, Dodge, Waukesha, and Winnebago.

See the release: 

— Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin is merging with Essential Health Clinic, a western Wisconsin business for more than 40 years. 

Essential Health Clinic’s health centers staff in La Crosse, Sparta and Blair will add to PPWI’s 21 health centers across the state. The merger will be official later this summer, the release shows.  

“Together we are a stronger, more sustainable health care provider for our patients,” said Tanya Atkinson, president and CEO of PPWI. “We look forward to expanding our reach and the opportunity to make sure patients can get the care they need in their own communities.”

See the release: 

— The Door County Economic Development Corp. has hired Kelsey Fox as the organization’s newest workforce development specialist. 

She previously worked for OneTouchPoint Communications Group in Hartland, before moving to Briggs & Stratton Corporation, where she worked as a digital marketing assistant manager. 

In her new position, Fox will work with local entrepreneurs to develop their marketing plans, as well as other employers on outreach strategies. 

See the release: 


# Milwaukee leaders worry about Advocate Aurora CEO decision fallout

# Planned Parenthood, Essential Health Clinic to merge

# Burnett County passes 1-year moratorium on large-scale farms

# Xcel Energy customers to see bill savings in 2020; tax reform, new wind keep costs down



– Ad exec Bill Eisner to restructure leadership at his agencies


– July class III milk price hits 55-month high of $17.55


– Milwaukee private equity firm acquires East Coast cell tower construction companies

– Developer to demolish former Shorewood dry cleaner building on Oakland Avenue


– Wisconsin insurance rates projected to drop 3.2%


– UW-Eau Claire housing offers rainbow floor for LGBTQ students


– Governor: Time to crack down on groundwater polluters

– Wisconsin counties designated as natural disaster areas


– Chick-fil-A proposes another Milwaukee-area restaurant

– Chick-fil-A proposed in Menomonee Falls

– Wisconsin cheese output drops seventh consecutive month

– Glazers, steaks and hot food from Kwik Trip now being delivered


– Aurora opens health center at 84South in Greenfield

– Wisconsin insurance rates projected to drop 3.2%

– Western Wisconsin clinics merge with Planned Parenthood

– Western Wisconsin clinics merge with Planned Parenthood


– Wisconsin manufacturing sector maintains ‘B’ grade in Ball State report


– Milwaukee aldermen approve policy aimed at preventing displacement in neighborhoods near downtown

– Historic Third Ward office building sold for $4.55 million


– Sheboygan Common Council plans to ban ‘conversion therapy’


– First half of downtown Madison’s ‘hairball’ intersection improvements nearly complete


– We Energies, MGE investing $195m in Badger Hollow solar farm


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

Door County Economic Development Corp.: Names new member to team DCEDC

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin: Announces merger with Essential Health Clinic

Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.: City of Onalaska receives $250,000 state grant