UPDATE: Reaction to Gov. Walker's decision on Medicaid - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Reaction to Gov. Walker's decision on Medicaid

MADISON (WKOW)-- There are mixed reactions to Governor Walker's announcement regarding federal Medicaid money. Many on both sides are speaking out.

"I think this is very important for people to understand, this is not an issue for any particular minority group, this is an issue for everyone in Wisconsin," says UW Director of Health Policy Programs Donna Friedsam.

Friedsam believes Governor Walker's plan makes sense, but is a little unpredictable. It won't rely on federal dollars but instead on more people enrolling in national health exchanges.

"Now what the state really has a strong interest in is making sure those exchanges are very successful and that there are good affordable products available within the exchange," Friedsam says.

Affordable is the key word. It's a word Senator Jennifer Shilling says the governor doesn't fully understand.

"I'm concerned this will leave thousands of families basically in the waiting room when it comes to access to stable, affordable health insurance and healthcare here in the state," Shilling explains.

With the federal medicaid dollars an estimated 175,000 Wisconsin residents would be covered. Governor Walker claims his plan would eventually insure 225,000 who were previously without insurance. Republicans also feel that Walker's plan will make more people self-sufficient and less reliant on the government.

"We're giving more people access to private health insurance without putting state tax dollars at risk,"  Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says.

Republican Senator Alberta Darling agrees.

"We have an obligation to protect our most vulnerable and taxpayers. Gov. Walker's plan does both."

However, many feel that's still left to be seen. If the governor's plan will really help the state in the long run.

"People are really wondering to what degree they're going to be able to afford this coverage, and we'll see. It's not clear," Friedsam says.

Governor Walker isn't the only Republican governor to turn down federal medicaid money. Eleven others also turned it down. Only six decided to accept the money.



MADISON (WKOW) -- Governor Scott Walker on Wednesday turned down federal funding that would expand Medicaid eligibility to 170,000 people in Wisconsin, citing concerns over the cost to the state in years to come.

Below is reaction to Wednesday's decision:

Wisconsin Council on Children and Families Executive Director Ken Taylor

The Governor's Medicaid proposal would be a significant step backwards in access to affordable health care for low-income parents who are struggling to feed and house their families. Almost 14 years ago, under the leadership of Governor Thompson, Wisconsin expanded BadgerCare coverage to parents with incomes up to 200 percent of the poverty level – to ensure that low-income working parents had access to affordable health care. Walker's plan would cut in half the BadgerCare income ceiling for parents.

The Governor's proposal would improve access to coverage for some adults who don't have dependent children, but it squanders a fantastic opportunity to serve significantly more people and create more jobs, at less cost to the state. And in the process, his proposal could make nearly 90,000 parents ineligible for BadgerCare and Medicaid.

Some of the parents who lose their BadgerCare coverage will move into the new health insurance exchanges. But that coverage wasn't designed by Congress to serve lower income families. Some of those parents will be ineligible for subsidies in the new exchanges, and others may not be able to afford the premiums, co-pays and deductibles that will far exceed the current costs in BadgerCare for parents who are near the poverty level. Thousands of parents now in BadgerCare are likely to become uninsured.

In short, while many other states are using the Affordable Care Act to improve access to affordable public coverage, the Governor's plan would take Wisconsin's coverage for parents in the opposite direction. We applaud the Governor for wanting to improve access to care for some of the uninsured childless adults in Wisconsin, but we hope policymakers will take a careful.

Wisconsin State AFL-CIO
"Once again Gov. Walker is playing politics with people's lives and letting partisan games get in the way of helping Wisconsinites," said Phil Neuenfeldt, President of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO.  "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."
"Just because you call it middle ground does not mean it isn't senseless and archaic.  Quality health care for all should not be a partisan issue. Republican Governors across the nation are doing right by their states and accepting federal funds to expand Medicaid," said Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO.  "We send our taxpayer dollars to Washington and when they come back to Wisconsin, Gov. Walker has a history of turning them away. What a shame that the health of many low-wage workers will suffer because of Gov. Walker's short-sided political calculations." 
State Senator Jennifer Schilling (D-La Crosse)
"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."
United Wisconsin
"Scott Walker has once again put special interests and political aspirations ahead of the needs of Wisconsin working families. His refusal to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid in Wisconsin will leave nearly 200,000 of our fellow citizens without access to healthcare. As states across the country move forward with the much-needed reforms of the Affordable Care Act, Walker's Wisconsin will be, much like our job creation numbers, left behind the progress of the nation."
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester)
"I support the governor's decision. We're giving more people access to private health insurance without putting state tax dollars at risk. Our focus will continue to be reducing people's reliance on government programs. We want fewer people on Medicaid and want to give people the opportunity to choose what's best for their families.

"Our state will continue to make the necessary investments to provide medical coverage for the poor but will not rely on the empty promises from the federal government to fund a program that they can't afford."


State Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills)

"We have an obligation to protect our most vulnerable and taxpayers. Governor Walker's plan does both.
After we finally have our fiscal house in order, it would be irresponsible to send the state back into uncertainty because the federal government doesn't honor another commitment. Adding to that uncertainty is the fact that it has been more than three years since the President signed a budget into law. We simply can't count on the money being there in the future."
ABC For Health, Inc.
"The Walker administration had a huge opportunity to promote over 10,000 new jobs and help all the people of Wisconsin save tax dollars by strengthening BadgerCare," says Peterson. Peterson continued, "Expanding health coverage would have brought home billions in federal dollars to help promote economic growth in Wisconsin. Now our federal tax dollars will go other states including many with conservative Republican governors like Ohio, Michigan, and Arizona."
U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wisconsin)
"Governor Walker put politics before people today. His decision to reject the federal support for Medicaid expansion in our state is foolish.  Expanding Medicaid would provide coverage to an additional 175,000 low-income people, create 10,500 jobs in Wisconsin, and because it is fully paid for through the Affordable Care Act, would save the state $66 million over three years.
"The Governor's math just doesn't add up. The offer by the federal government would share 100 percent of the cost, versus the 60 percent that the federal government pays today.  On top of that, those without coverage still receive treatment, passing costs along to hospitals and the insured. Accepting the support for Medicaid expansion would reduce the number of uninsured, saving Wisconsin's health care system $247 million in uncompensated care costs over the next 10 years. Rejecting this deal is wrong for Wisconsin."
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