Responses to Gov. Walker's Medicaid decision

Published On: Feb 13 2013 04:22:18 PM CST   Updated On: Feb 13 2013 04:23:08 PM CST
Health, medical care

Republican Gov. Scott Walker says he won't expand Wisconsin's Medicaid services to 175,000 childless adults as the federal health care overhaul law allows.

Instead, Walker announced Wednesday a hybrid approach that he says will drop the state's uninsured non-elderly adults from 14 percent to 7 percent.

Democratic Senator Jennifer Shilling, of La Crosse, released the following statement in response to Governor Walker’s decision:

"Access to health care is a key component of rebuilding Wisconsin’s middle class. It is one of the most important stepping stones for helping low income people become middle class, and helping those already in the middle class stay there. Governor Walker's short-sighted decision leaves Wisconsin’s middle class families stranded in the waiting room. By turning away federal funding, Wisconsin taxpayers will pay more out of their own pockets and thousands will be denied access to affordable health care.

At a time when other states are providing assistance to working families, Governor Walker's failure to invest in preventive care programs will continue to shift costs onto the middle class. From rejecting thousands of high speed rail jobs to turning away rural broadband funding, Governor Walker continues to make short-sighted decisions that are hurting middle class families throughout Wisconsin. These missed opportunities and misplaced priorities are yet another reason that Wisconsin ranks 42nd in the nation for job creation and is last among states in the Midwest.

To date, Republican Governors in several states have announced that they will accept federal support to provide increased access to health care coverage through Medicaid. In the words of conservative Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, "Saying 'no' to this plan would not save these federal dollars from being spent or direct them to deficit reduction. No, Arizona’s tax dollars would simply be passed to another state – generating jobs and providing health care for citizens in California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico or any other expansion state. With this move, we will secure a federal revenue stream to cover the costs of the uninsured who already show up in our doctor’s offices and emergency rooms.”

Democratic Representative Jill Billings, of La Crosse, released the following statement regarding Governor Walker’s announcement rejecting federal funding for Medicaid:

“Rather than pursuing a path that would increase access to health care, create jobs, and save the state money, Governor Walker has instead created a complicated shell game designed to draw attention away from the fact that he is playing politics with people’s ability to get access to healthcare.

Republican Governors of other states have already accepted this money because they know it is the right thing and fiscally sound thing to do.  Wisconsin taxpayers will not save money as a result of this decision, instead our federal tax dollars will simply go to another state to help them pay for a program their residents will actually benefit from.

Representative Billings is a sponsor of the Strengthen BadgerCare Act, which would use the available federal funding to close a gap in health coverage for uninsured individuals, stimulate Wisconsin’s workforce, and lower taxes on Wisconsin individuals and employers. The Strengthen BadgerCare Act would provide health care coverage for approximately 175,000 more Wisconsin residents. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that Wisconsin would save almost $500 million over the next decade as a result of increased federal Medicaid funding and a reduction in uncompensated medical care at hospitals and other health care facilities. Additionally, an independent analysis commissioned by Citizen Action of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families estimated that this proposal will generate approximately 10,000 new jobs in Wisconsin over the next 10 years.”
President of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Phil Neuenfeldt released the following statement on Governor Walker's decision: "Once again Gov. Walker is playing politics with people’s lives and letting partisan games get in the way of helping Wisconsinites. The decision to accept federal funds to increase BadgerCare coverage should have been a no brainer; this should not have even been a discussion. This decision means turning away jobs and leaving countless uninsured residents without access to affordable health care.”

Michael Richards, Executive Director of External Affairs at Gundersen Lutheran Hospital released the following statement on Governor Walker’s decision to reject federal Medicaid funds:
“Gundersen Lutheran’s number one priority is to provide high-quality care for all patients no matter their level of insurance coverage. Today’s decision by the governor is the first step in a long process. Many questions remain, not just in Wisconsin, but at the federal level as insurance exchanges begin to take effect. Gundersen Lutheran looks forward to working with the Governor, Wisconsin State Legislature and representatives in Congress to help guide solutions for our patients and their families.”