Mixed Reactions to Estimates of Wisconsin's Medicaid Decision

Aug 18, 2014

According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, Wisconsin would have saved $206 M, if Gov. Walker had expanded Medicaid or BadgerCare coverage.

Numbers swirl around Wisconsin's decision not to fully expand its Medicaid program

Under the new federal health law, the federal government promised to cover everyone earning up to 138% of the poverty level, through 2016. After that time, the states would have to cover a portion of the cost.

Gov. Walker opted for BadgerCare to cover everyone living at or below the poverty line - the program had previously excluded adults without children, and to refer those earning from 100%-138% of poverty, to the  the federal marketplace.

Democratic state Sen. Jennifer Shilling asked the LFB to estimate the impact of Wisconsin's decision. The report says a full expansion of BadgerCare would have saved the state $206 M during the current two-year state budget, and perhaps as much as $351 M over the next, because of the influx of federal money.

After viewing the report, Republican state Sen. Alberta Darling released a statement. It reads, in part, that the study "failed to address what happens when the Obama administration fails to live up to their promises: Counting on the federal government to pay for a program is like counting on a stranger to pick up the tab when they already have one foot out the door. There is no such thing as free federal money. It is all taxpayer funded...The money offered by the Obama administration to expand Medicaid is a bribe that will likely jeopardize health care treatment for patients in states that took the expansion."

The group Citizen Action of Wisconsin released a statement reading, in part, "Governor Walker’s political decision to deny BadgerCare to 87,000 Wisconsinnites is inflicting needless damage to families and communities across the state. Walker and his allies in the Legislature need to stop playing politics with the health and economic security of hard pressed families in every Wisconsin county.”