A rejection of federal grant money by the State of Wisconsin is causing some health advocacy groups to cry foul.
At ABC for Health of Madison grant money is the lifeblood of the outreach programs that help people navigate the health care insurance system.
But, in February, Wisconsin's Commissioner of Insurance terminated one such federal grant.
"We basically had a phone call with Deputy (Insurance) Commissioner Dan Schwartzer and he basically said it was a waste of taxpayer money," said ABC for Health Executive Director Bobby Peterson.
Two months later, ABC for Health was seeking a different federal grant to help low-income families learn more about BadgerCare for children.
Peterson asked the Department of Health Services for a letter of recommendation.
"We sent a copy of the proposal we intended to work on, the partners, and we were told that they weren't interested in sending a letter of support for our project at this time," said Peterson.
DHS Deputy Secretary Kitty Rhoades defended that decision.
"This particular grant required that, when it ended, the organization or the state or whomever was required to maintain that effort or that level of funding that the grant had provided or even higher," said Rhoades.
Rhoades cited another reason the letter was denied.
"We want to make sure we're not duplicating."
Rhoades said DHS also passed up grants for drug, alcohol and other health programs because such services are already being provided.
"If you have a different idea of how the program should work lets do that," said Rhoades. "But do we need to take limited taxpayer dollars to duplicate funding that we're already paying?"
Peterson claims drug and alcohol counseling has been tabbed as a top priority by the Dane County Health Council and that dollars are still needed.
He believes the denial of such grants is simply political.
"It just was stunning, I think, that the Walker administration and Secretary (Dennis) Smith imparticular just turned their back on us," said Peterson.
"My personal belief is that the health care of those who need our help is not political," responded Rhoades. "Its doing the best we can with the resources we have available and in assuring sustainability."
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