Medical Assistance Program Costs Continue to Explode

MacIver News Service | May 20, 2013

[Madison, Wisc…] Wisconsin’s Medical Assistance (MA), BadgerCare Plus, and other MA-related program costs will increase by $73.5 million in 2013-2015, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB).

In the memorandum sent to members of the Joint Committee on Finance on Friday, LFB said Governor Scott Walker’s original budget plan provided $660.6 million in additional General Purpose Revenue (GPR) for MA and BadgerCare Plus programs, but revised estimates indicate the proposal would now require an increase to $734.1 million in GPR.

Of the $73.5 million hike, $21.5 million in GPR would be used for the MA cost-to-continue item. The rest of the increase would relate to changes for BadgerCare Plus and other MA-related programs, which would include the proposed eligibility change.

The MacIver Institute has previously reported on the increased costs that have faced MA-related programs in Wisconsin. In fiscal year 2010, under Governor Jim Doyle, the MA program spent $207 million more than originally budgeted.

From 1998 to 2011, MA program enrollees nearly tripled from 400,000 to 1,175,927, mostly through the sprawl of BadgerCare.

The memo also provided reestimates for SeniorCare and School-Based Services that provide health based services for MA eligible students. When combining the additional revenue from these programs with the increased costs for MA and BadgerCare Plus, the total three-year change to the General Fund Balance is a reduction of $700,000.

The recent report that BadgerCare and other MA programs will have an additional cost to taxpayers came shortly after LFB indicated that Wisconsin will bring in $575 million more, or an increase of 1.4 percent, over the next three years in additional revenue.

According to the LFB, this change is due to the strength of individual income tax revenues.

The MA and BadgerCare Plus programs are joint federal and state programs that offer health services to low-income individuals.

See the full memo from LFB here.