New Legislation Introduced Today Enables Counties to Sidestep Gov. Walker’s Rejection of Medicaid Funds

Following Assembly’s rejection of enhanced federal Medicaid funds for BadgerCare, legislation introduced to create county option.

At a media event today, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Representative Melissa Sargent and concerned Wisconsin citizens announced legislation that would create an alternative means of accepting the federal Medicaid funds for BadgerCare. The proposed legislation would allow Wisconsin counties to access the federal Medicaid funds if that county voted to do so. Since Governor Walker rejected the federal Medicaid funds, many counties have announced their opposition to the policy.

18 Wisconsin counties, and the Wisconsin Counties Association which represents 71 counties, have passed resolutions calling for the state to accept enhanced federal Medicaid funds. Many have called for allowing counties to access the federal funds if Governor Walker continues to refuse. The Federal Government has allowed counties in other states access to enhanced Medicaid funding. This legislation will help both Wisconsin residents who will be forced off BadgerCare and those whose access will be delayed.

Gov. Walker's proposal delays forcing 77,000 off of BadgerCare until March 31st by preventing 80,000 additional citizens below the poverty line from enrolling in BadgerCare until April 1st. Those uninsured under the poverty line denied access to BadgerCare will have no ability to access either public or private health insurance subsidies until April. This legislation would prevent thousands from being kicked off needlessly and give citizens the freedom to receive vital healthcare sooner than April.

“Governor Walker and the Republicans have caused this crisis by rejecting federal money that would provide access to healthcare for thousands more Wisconsinites and cost taxpayers less.  But it’s not too late to do the right thing,” said State Representative Melissa Sargent, author of the legislation. “We must honor local control by giving the counties the power to bring these federal dollars home to Wisconsin. Simply put, this bill will allow counties to put the people before politics by allowing them to accept the federal Medicaid expansion if they so choose.”

“We commend Representative Sargent for this practical solution to the crisis Governor Walker and the Legislature created by leaving on the table hundreds of millions of dollars of enhanced federal Medicaid dollars,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin.  “This bill draws on Wisconsin’s proud tradition for local control.  If conservatives in Madison can’t bring themselves the do the right thing and take advantage of federal dollars that would extend health security to tens of thousands low income Wisconsinites, counties are willing to fill the breach.”

Wisconsin can accept these federal Medicaid funds for BadgerCare at any time, guaranteeing all Wisconsinites permanent access to affordable care. If the state will not act on this responsibility, than counties must be given the means to protect their constituents.

County governments who have taken action in the last year: Dane, Milwaukee, Jefferson, Iowa, Richland, Winnebago, Outagamie, Door, Lincoln, Oneida, Marathon, Portage, Wood, Clark, Eau Claire, Dunn, Manitowoc and La Crosse.



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