Wisconsin’s General Fund Balance $265 Million Below Estimates

Medicaid Spending $207 Million More than Budgeted


MacIver News Service | October 18, 2010 6:13 pm

[Madison, Wisc…] Wisconsin’s desperate fiscal condition is worse than previously estimated, according to an official analysis released late Monday.

Bob Lang, Director of the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, broke down the numbers in a  2009-10 Annual Fiscal Report memo he sent to the co-Chairs of the Joint Finance Committee.

The State’s General Fund balance  closed the fiscal year $265 million below estimates.

According to the memo:

The report indicates that the gross, closing general fund balance for 2009-10 is $71 million. This is $265 million below the $336 million amount estimated at the conclusion of the 2009-10 legislative session. The $265 million variance is due to reduced departmental revenues (non-tax receipts deposited in the general fund) of $43 million and increased net expenditures of $222 million.

The largest discrepancy came in the area of medical assistance.

Net appropriations exceeded budgeted amounts by $222 million. This is primarily due to the fact the medical assistance (MA) program spent $207 million more than budgeted in 2009-10. To fund a shortfall in the MA program in 2009-10, the administration transferred amounts from the biennial appropriation for MA from 2010-11 to 2009-10.

Wisconsin’s Medical Assistance program, also known as Medicaid, funds health care services for eligible low-income, elderly, blind, and disabled individuals. The program includes BadgerCare Plus, long-term care and blind, elderly and disabled medicaid.

According to Lang’s memo:

[I]t is currently estimated that the GPR appropriation for that program will be insufficient by approximately $148 million for the 2009-11 biennium. To address this shortfall, the Department of Health Services (DHS) intends to seek approval to apply an estimated surplus in the SeniorCare program appropriation of $20 million to MA. DHS also intends to seek approval to delay certain MA capitation payments that would otherwise be paid to managed care organizations in May, 2011, to the 2011-12 fiscal year, thereby reducing the 2009-11 shortfall by an additional $44 million GPR. With respect to the remaining projected GPR deficit of $84 million, the Department is exploring a number of alternatives including seeking additional federal matching funds.

MacIver News will have updates with reaction to this developing story, later.