Governor Walker tries to discredit viable alternative for Medicaid.
In a joint letter signed by leaders from 20 counties to the Department of Health Services, county leaders from across Wisconsin proposed an alternative local means for accepting federal Medicaid funds that cite the experience of Cuyahoga County in Ohio. Governor Walker in response tries to discredit this alternative before the idea spreads.
Gov. Walker falsely describes this request by counties as an attempt to bypass the state, an intentionally misleading description. Like in Ohio, county leaders are actually proposing a partnership with the WI Dept of Health Services to allow access to the federal Medicaid funds at the local level. Wisconsin could do so by including this provision in their BadgerCare waiver request to the federal government, or pursue a legislative option to allow counties the ability to access needed federal funds to ensure citizens health coverage. We believe the federal government would support this course of action, having done so in Ohio. County leaders feel it is their ethical obligation to help thousands of their residents when we have the means to do so.
While Governor Walker’s budget immorally rejects federal Medicaid funds for BadgerCare, Wisconsin can legally accept them at any time. The same is true for the counties (if the state cooperates). While Governor Walker tries to discredit this alternative, the reality is that the only barrier to allowing counties the ability to protect their citizens is this man-made roadblock, not a policy one.
We echo the words of the Green Bay Press Gazette’s editorial last week: “We’d prefer the whole state take part. But in the meantime, this alternative is worth exploring.”