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.
"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)