Seven Supervisors Request Medicaid Expansion without County Board Approval

MacIver News Service | August 5, 2013

[Madison, Wisc…] Twenty Wisconsin counties were listed in a letter sent to the Department of Health Service last week asking for special access to federal Medicaid expansion funding, but only 13 of them actually passed resolutions authorizing the request, according to the letter itself. The other seven counties were put on the letter by individual supervisors, sometimes without the knowledge of their fellow supervisors.

“I signed that letter only as myself representing my county board district, not representing the county or county board as a whole,” Dan Robinson, a Supervisor in Brown County, told the MacIver News Service (MNS).

In addition to Brown County, supervisors from Columbia, Kenosha, Outagamie, Racine, Sauk and Sheboygan counties also signed the letter without passing a resolution in their county.

In Racine County, Supervisor Ken Hall signed the letter. He introduced a resolution to the board, which is currently in committee. The Board Chair, Peter Hansen, was completely in the dark about the letter.

“I’m not aware of any letter and I don’t think anyone else is except Mr. Hall,” he told MNS.

The letter to DHS was in response to the state’s current budget, which rejected a $3.39 billion expansion of Medicaid to include single people living above the poverty line. The federal government said it would pick up most of the bill, but the state decided the feds could pick up the entire bill by letting the Obamacare exchanges take care of that population.

A liberal group called Citizens Action of Wisconsin supported the expansion and the counties’ letter to DHS.

Following the headline “20 Wisconsin Counties Announce Effort to Pursue Federal BadgerCare Money, Cite Ohio Model”, a Citizen Action press release on July 30th explained, “13 counties in Wisconsin have so far passed local resolutions calling for accepting federal Medicaid funds, and leaders from 20 counties signed a letter calling for this ability to access federal Medicaid funds in Wisconsin counties.”

Andy Ross, the Columbia County Board Chair, seemed surprised when asked about the letter requesting that his county be allowed to directly participate in the federal program that the state rejected.

“The Columbia County Board has not passed a resolution dealing with federal funding to expand Medicaid coverage. To my knowledge there is no desire to move this to the board for consideration,” he said.

MNS reached out to all seven of the supervisors who acted without the backing of a resolution. Only Dan Robinson from Brown County and Jim Baumgert from Sheboygan County responded.

“Signing onto the letter was on my own but I am having the the possible numbers of uninsured that could happen to Sheboygan County being reviewed by Sheboygan County staff to see if the numbers are reasonable. If so, I would likely introduce a resolution to provide an option for Sheboygan County if that is the direction we decide to take,” Baumgert said.

The original letter can be seen here.