Friday, May 4, 2012

WHN Updates

Smith attacks federal health care policies at Wisconsin Health News event

Speaking to health care industry leaders at Wisconsin Health News' first Lunch Briefing, Department of Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith Wednesday defended the Walker administration's policies and decried the effects of the federal health reform law.

Smith started by painting a rosy picture of health care in Wisconsin. The state has the second-lowest number of uninsured people in the country, Smith said. He also highlighted Governor Scott Walker's infusion of $1.2 billion in new revenues to Medicaid programs. Although the federal government gave the states the option to cut Medicaid services and reduce eligibility, the Walker administration chose not to exercise that option, Smith said. "Those who rely on Medicaid are far better off because we did not adopt those federal options," he said.

Smith stressed that Medicaid users were not a monolithic entity, but rather a diverse group with varying needs. Any reform of Medicaid requires the state to pay careful attention to those groups rather than trying to impose a one-size-fits-all solution.

Previous Medicaid expansions were financed by extra sources of income, he said. "It is not realistic to think there is another new pot of money around the corner," Smith warned. He also chided the previous administration for failing to fund those expansions with state money when the state reached the limits of federal funding.

Smith's speech concluded with stern warnings about the danger of excessive federal meddling in the health care arena. "Above all, health care is personal and local. Centralizing decision-making for over 20 percent of our entire economy will not turn out well for everyone."

"It is an unpleasant task to inform you that you will not find the wisdom of Solomon in the Federal Register," he said.

According to Smith, the president's health care reforms will lead to a federal government that is more invasive and coercive. He also accused the Obama administration of reneging on its promise to fully fund the expansion of Medicaid. "The President's budget includes a proposal for a blended match rate to the states," he said.  "A blended rate that saves the federal government money is a thinly-veiled cost shift to the states."
Watch Smith's speech
Wisconsin Alliance for Women's Health
PO Box 1726 Madison, WI 53701
[p] 608.251.0139 | 866.399.WAWH | [f] 608.256.3004

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