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New legislation could insure about 4,000 people in La Crosse County

Proposed legislation would allow individual counties to accept federal Medicaid funds

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - The La Crosse County Board is backing a proposed piece of legislation that would allow individual counties to accept federal Medicaid funds.

The board passed a resolution asking for the ability to take the federal Medicaid money on a local level, which would give many people without insurance in La Crosse County a chance to be covered by BadgerCare.

"We enjoy a very close relationship with our doctor," said Joella Striebel, an uninsured mother in the area. She has been seeing the same doctor for more than 10 years.

"My husband has been seeing him since we have been together. Our children have been seeing him since I have been pregnant with them," said Striebel.  However, Striebel may no longer be able to go to the same doctor because she is uninsured and it weighs heavy on her mind.

"I've had a moment where my car slid a little bit and that is what flashes across my mind. If I get hurt, I don't know what I will do," said Striebel.


Now a new piece of legislation could be the answer Striebel is looking for. Tara Johnson with the La Crosse Board said it's a proposal that would allow counties to access federal Medicaid dollars at a local level.

"To basically declare a waiver that would allow La Crosse County to access or draw down those federal dollars to help over 4,000 people in La Crosse County get access to health care," said Johnson.

However, Gov. Scott Walker continues to refuse federal Medicaid funds for the state.

"It's a missed opportunity right now. There are people in need, and there are people who are sick and there are people who need access to healthcare who could get it if this legislation would pass," said Johnson.

It would help people like Striebel keep her doctor.

"The comfort of knowing that we can continue that relationship with our doctor who has been a part of our family would be a big relief."

State Rep. Melissa Sargent introduced the bill and has received more than 30 co-sponsors. Now the proposal is in the hands of the leadership in the Assembly. It has not been assigned to a committee yet.

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