GOP’s refusal to expand BadgerCare would cost the state $1.6 billion and leave 90,000 without quality coverage
MILWAUKEE, WI — Yesterday, Congresswoman Gwen Moore, Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, and State Representative Sara Rodriguez joined Milwaukee area nurse Tracy Sperko for a virtual roundtable focused on health care. Their message to Republican members of the Wisconsin legislature was clear: expand Badgercare now.
For years, Republican obstruction has denied the State of Wisconsin the full advantages of accepting the federal expansion of Medicaid available under the Affordable Care Act. Wisconsin is one of just 14 states that has yet to accept the expansion, which has cost the states hundreds of millions of dollars.
The recently enacted American Rescue Plan provides even more robust financial incentives for the holdout states – like Wisconsin – which have not implemented the Medicaid expansion made available under the Affordable Care Act. In addition to covering 90 percent of the costs for the expansion population, the federal government will chip in an extra 5 percent for the traditional Medicaid population for two years. This translates to billions in additional dollars for the states.
Tracy Sperko, a Milwaukee area school nurse who works with adolescents described the experiences of several of her students who struggle with prescription drug and health care affordability. “I’ve been on the phone with parents, with their voice breaking. I know they’re scared,” she said. “I wonder what we are doing? Why don’t we care? We say in Wisconsin, we say in our country that we care about our children. They are our future. […] But when they’re sick, they can’t perform, they can’t learn, they can’t attend school. I want to see them have a full life, but they’re being held back.”
State Representative Sara Rodriguez (D-Brookfield) described the financial, moral, and public health imperative for expanding BadgerCare. “It’s time for the Legislature to recognize the successes that other states have had in expanding their eligibility criteria […] and bring those federal dollars home to Wisconsin,” said Rep. Rodriguez. “It’s not only the right thing to do for our budget, but it’s the right thing to do to ensure that people have access to basic health care services. We should not be spending more in Wisconsin to cover less people.”
Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee) underscored the fiscal implications for the state of Wisconsin if Republicans once again refuse to expand Badgercare, citing the Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s analysis that continued obstruction would cost the state more than $1.6 billion over just the next two years. “Here’s your opportunity to run government like a business,” she noted, “Instead, you’re leaving billions of dollars on the table.”
Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes reminded attendees of the harsh realities impacting families for years that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, “an untreated medical condition can easily become a life or death situation, or (lead to) a situation between economic security or bankruptcy,” said Barnes.
You can view a recording of the full press conference at this link. Passcode: [email protected]