Medicaid decision will impact thousands in Wisconsin

Published On: Feb 12 2013 08:46:43 PM CST   Updated On: Feb 12 2013 11:28:00 PM CST
LA CROSSE, Wis. -

The pressure is mounting on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to accept millions of dollars in federal Medicaid money.

Gov. Walker will announce his decision on Wednesday, but the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting he's already decided to reject the funds.

At a stop Tuesday in La Crosse, Walker would not say yet what his decision will be but did say that getting people off of government health insurance is one of his top goals.

"Our overall goal when it comes to entitlement reform is to ensure there are fewer people who are uninsured in this state when it comes to health insurance but also fewer people who are on government assistance," said Walker.

"Ideally because we've helped create more jobs and more opportunity," he added.

The governor's comments are leading many people to believe he will reject the money, which will be dissapointing news to the thousands of people still waiting for coverage.

"I don't understand why if someone was offering you at least three years at no cost, why wouldn't you take it," said Noreen Holmes, the director of the La Crosse County Aging Unit.

The Affordable Care Act is giving states the chance to receive millions of dollars in funding to expand their state Medicaid Programs. In Wisconsin, that program is BadgerCare.

There are an estimated 170,000 people who are currently eligible for BadgerCare but are on a waiting list because there's no funding. Holmes says those people have no way to pay for health insurance.

"The people who are on the waiting list are basically the working poor," said Holmes.

On Monday,  the La Crosse County Board approved a resolution encouraging Governor Walker to accept the funds. The resolution states that doing so would provide additional coverage for an estimated 3,400 people in the county.

"I think one of the biggest misconceptions out there is that Medicaid is a yes or no proposition," said Walker.

"I think people will be surprised to see (Wednesday) that it isn't," he added.

"There are plenty of conservative governors in other states who have accepted the money. That includes Michigan, Arizona, and Ohio. They've accepted the money because they've realized it's a good deal for their states," said Holmes.

Democratic lawmakers in Wisconsin are trying to put pressure on Governor Walker to change his mind. They argue that expanding BadgerCare would create an estimated 10,000 new jobs in the state as well.