Madison- One week ago today, late on Halloween, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) released its plan to cut over $500 million from Medicaid. Despite minor changes to the original plan released on September 30, the DHS plan still leaves Wisconsin in a no-win situation.
This Thursday, the Joint Finance Committee is expected to review the parts of the plan that require a federal waiver. If the federal government approves the waiver request, DHS’s plan will be implemented and tens of thousands of people will lose their coverage. If the waiver is denied, the state budget requires that about 53,000 adults be kicked off of Medicaid and BadgerCare. In either scenario, working families in Wisconsin lose.
The Wisconsin Act 10 passed earlier this year shifted authority for health care policy decisions from the Legislature to DHS, giving them near-total control over how to implement the more than half-billion dollars in spending cuts to Medicaid and BadgerCare. The DHS plan includes drastic premium increases of up to 2,000%, benefit reductions, and other restrictions that will reduce available services and shift costs to struggling families, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
The Save BadgerCare Coalition rejects the notion that reducing eligibility and benefits for these critical programs is the best or only option. This unbalanced approach essentially shifts the financial burden onto already struggling individuals and families. This cost shift will ultimately weigh on employers and workers who have health insurance, since they will end up paying more to cover health care for the greater number of uninsured resulting from their plan.
Since the private health insurance market has priced so many families out, BadgerCare and other Medicaid-funded programs in Wisconsin have been extremely successful in making health care coverage available to the vast majority of Wisconsinites. It would be a tragedy to weaken BadgerCare so dramatically before there are other affordable option available for Wisconsin families.
The Coalition calls on DHS to address the many concerns our members and the people they represent have raised about the waiver proposal and other aspects of the plan before moving forward. Wisconsin has long been a national leader in ensuring that its residents have access to quality health care, and BadgerCare—an immensely popular and effective program--has been a major part of that success story.
There are other alternatives that deserve serious, deliberate consideration. We strongly oppose undermining the health of hundreds of thousands of people in our state by fast-tracking an ill-conceived proposal in order to meet an unnecessary, self-imposed deadline.
The Save BadgerCare Coalition includes a broad and diverse alliance of advocates for public health, disability rights, women’s health, the aging community, children’s health along with working individuals and families that depend on Medicaid including BadgerCare for their health, well-being and economic security. For more information visit www.savebadgercare.org .