REPORT: Wisconsin Was Right to Reject the Medicaid Expansion

October 7, 2014

For Immediate Release
Contact: Nick Novak, 608-237-7290

[Madison, Wisc…] Wisconsin’s breakthrough Medicaid expansion plan sets a standard of cost-effective access for quality care that other states should follow, according to a new study from National Center for Policy Analysis and the John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy.

The state’s Medicaid program mixes Medicaid expansion with subsidized private coverage, rejecting full Medicaid expansion in favor of a more focused and pointed program. In doing so, Wisconsin maximizes the availability of private coverage for its low-income residents. By rejecting the expansion, taxpayers will save up to $752 million through fiscal year 2017 according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

“Wisconsin got it right with the unique configuration of its Medicaid expansion program, which covers the state’s low-income people without a coverage gap,” said NCPA Senior Fellow Devon Herrick.

The study notes that:

  • Wisconsin’s plan made private coverage available at little cost to the 62,776 Wisconsinites with incomes above 100 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) who were transitioned from Medicaid in 2014.
  • Shifting these individuals from Medicaid to private coverage allowed Wisconsin to open enrollment in the state’s Medicaid program to 97,059 childless adults earning less than 100 percent of the FPL that did not have coverage previously.
  • These changes expanded Medicaid eligibility to everyone living below the FPL while allowing residents living just above poverty to get highly subsidized private coverage through the exchange.

“Not only will Wisconsin’s Medicaid reforms save taxpayers more than $750 million over the next few years, it is the only state that rejected the expansion that does not have a coverage gap,” said Brett Healy, President of the MacIver Institute. “The study also notes that expanding Medicaid does not improve health outcomes, it actually raises the cost of health care and there is no proof that it significantly reduces the amount of people that are uninsured. Wisconsin did it right and taxpayers should be proud.”

According to the study, individuals on Medicaid have poor access to care because fewer and fewer doctors are accepting new Medicaid patients. The report also points out that physicians are paid far less for patients on Medicaid than private insurance, which actually increases the cost of health care.

In addition to poor access to care, the study backs up data released earlier this year from the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment, which found that health outcomes for individuals on Medicaid are no better than those that are uninsured. The Oregon study also found that Medicaid enrollees visited the emergency room 40 percent more than the uninsured.

“By designing a flexible mix of public and private coverage for its low-income population, Wisconsin has created a successful example that other states should seriously consider,” said Herrick.

See the full report by clicking here.



The John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy is a Wisconsin-based think tank that promotes free markets, individual freedom, personal responsibility and limited government. Visit our website today for more information.

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The National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization, established in 1983. We bring together the best and brightest minds to tackle the country’s most difficult public policy problems — in health care, taxes, retirement, education, energy and the environment. Visit our website today for more information.