Walker Says No To Feds

[Madison, Wisc…] Governor Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) announced Wednesday that Wisconsin will not accept federal funding under the Affordable Care Act to expand the state’s Medicaid program.

The Affordable Care Act initially required states to provide Medical Assistance to all non-elderly adults with incomes not above 133%. The Supreme Court struck down that requirement. The federal government is now offering a temporary increase in funding to states to encourage the expansion of coverage.

Walker announced his decision to say no to the expansion of Obamacare at a business lunch in Madison on Wednesday sponsored by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.

Walker expressed concern with the hundreds of millions of dollars Wisconsin would have paid for this expansion up front but also raised questions about the federal government’s ability to pay for its portion of the expansion. If the federal government did not meet its financial commitment or changed the terms of the original deal, Wisconsin taxpayers would be on the hook for the entire expansion.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation study, if the program is expanded as proposed under Obamacare, it could cost Wisconsin up to $725 million dollars. The federal government is currently $16 trillion dollars in debt.

Gov. Walker announced in the same speech a proposed expansion of the current state medical assistance program and changes in the eligibility requirements for some currently enrolled in the program.

According to Governor’s office, the proposal will “reduce the number of uninsured individuals in the state by nearly 50 percent with the number of uninsured adults ages 19-64 to be reduced by 224,580.”

Governor Walker will propose in his 2013-2015 budget proposal that the current enrollment cap on BadgerCare+ Core Plan, which covers childless adults up to 64 years old with incomes up to 200% of the federal poverty level, be lifted while lowering the eligibility ceiling to 100% of federal poverty level.

According to the Administration, lifting the cap will allow approximately 82,000 earning $11,490 dollars a year or $15,510 for a household of two to enter the program. Lowering the income threshold from 200% to 100% will take 87,000 individuals off of Wisconsin’s program and make them eligible for medical coverage under the President’s federal health care exchange.