Groups Say Walker Is Shortchanging Expansion Of Medicaid


Health care advocacy groups say the Walker administration is downplaying the financial benefits of the Affordable Care Act as the Governor decides whether to expand Medicaid in Wisconsin.

In testimony to a Republican-led Congressional committee yesterday, Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith said that the costs of the federal health care law would outweigh the benefits to the state of Wisconsin.Smith cited the thousands of people who are already eligible for Medicaid in Wisconsin who would only sign up once the law took effect.

But Jon Peacock with the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families says those residents will sign up for Medicaid whether the state chooses to expand it or not.

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“Some of the effects of the federal law are unavoidable,” he says.”Others are optional.”

Peacock says it’s the optional pieces that actually stand to benefit Wisconsin.If the state expands Medicaid to adults without kids who earn less than 133-percent of the federal poverty level, the federal government will initially pick up 100-percent of the costs.

Peacock doesn’t dispute that other pieces of the federal health care law will cost the state.

“But when you just look at the part that’s optional, the gap in BadgerCare and whether we decide to close that or not, that piece saves us money,” he says.

Peacock says the federal health care law will also cut other costs by reducing the number of uninsured people who rely on the state for emergeny room care.The Governor says he hasn’t decided yet whether to expand Medicaid, citing a concern that the federal government won’t pick up as much of the cost as it promised.