People without health insurance are asking governor Scott Walker to take federal money to beef up the state's Medicaid program, so they can have coverage, too.
As part of the Affordable Care Act, governors have the option to accept funding to expand Medicaid. Governor Walker hasn't said whether he'll take the money or not. In a news conference in La Crosse, several area residents pleaded for the governor to do just that and expand the availability of Badgercare, the state's Medicaid program. 28-year-old Erin Oldre of La Crosse doesn't qualify because he doesn't have kids. He says the money he spends on epilepsy medication takes up half his monthly pay. "Right now, I'm living not paycheck by paycheck, but dollar by dollar. I have very little for myself."
Some patients are struggling with high bills because they're not on Badgercare. The current eligibility requirements make it hard for some Wisconsin residents to qualify. 58-year-old Bruce Butterfuss of Tomah says he had been healthy for years, until he turned 55. He doesn't have kids at home, so he's without Badgercare coverage. "I was in the hospital three days last week, with pneumonia again. It's a pretty good bill: it's over $12,000."
It's possible that Walker will announce whether he'll use the Medicaid funds made available during his budget address later this month. Three other Republican governors have accepted the money: in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico. Walker has turned down federal help before. He rejected funds for high speed rail, and to expand internet availaibility in rural areas.