RACINE COUNTY — The governor’s decision to reject a federally funded Medicaid expansion came under fire at the state and local level Wednesday, with a Racine County supervisor calling on the state to accept the funding.
In a conference call hosted by Citizen Action Wisconsin, Supervisor Ken Hall asked that the state pursue the expanded funds offered through the Affordable Care Act and rejected earlier this year by Gov. Scott Walker, calling the governor’s decision “more ideological than economic.”
Citing an estimate from the left-leaning Citizen Action advocacy group, Hall said 5,640 county residents would get shifted off BadgerCare under the governor’s proposal.
According to Hall, it doesn’t make economic sense “turning down something so significant and basic that the community really needs.”
But echoing Walker, County Executive Jim Ladwig said the direct cost of rejecting the expansion is “negligible” for the county, whereas accepting it could invite extra local expenditures down the road if the federal government starts asking states to cover more of the Medicaid costs.
Ladwig said the state previously passed along similar charges, such as BadgerCare and the W2 program, to the counties.
The Associated Press reports that Walker’s plan to reject the expansion and tighten income eligibility to move more people near the poverty line into private insurance drew criticism from Democrats and even one Republican on the Legislature’s budget committee Wednesday at the state Capitol.
A Republican on the Joint Finance Committee, which votes on budget alterations, voiced concerns similar to Hall’s during Wednesday’s committee meeting.
Sen. Luther Olsen, a Republican committee member from Ripon, asked Walker’s head of the Department of Health Services why the state would turn down the federal money.
“In my life, I never leave any money on the table,” Olsen said. “But here it seems like we’re leaving some money on the table.”
Republicans control both the Senate and Assembly, and leaders haven’t signaled any desire to stray from Walker’s approach to Medicaid so far.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The governor’s plan
Currently, BadgerCare covers people earning up to 200 percent of the poverty level, or $22,980, but there is a cap on enrollment for single adults. Gov. Scott Walker would lift that cap for those at or below poverty level. Walker would only cover adults up to 100 percent of poverty, or $11,490 a year.
Those just above the poverty line could purchase federally subsidized health insurance coverage through a private marketplace known as an exchange. Walker said his plan would drop the number of uninsured people in the state by 224,600.
— The Associated Press