Wisconsin to cut more people from Medicaid than any other state

Wisconsin would cut more people from Medicaid than any other state as part of a plan advanced by Republican Gov. Scott Walker, according to an independent analysis of data by Kaiser Health News.

About 92,000 Wisconsin citizens, including 87,000 parents and caretaker relatives, and 5,000 childless adults with incomes above the federal poverty level, would lose the Medicaid coverage they previously had as a result of a waiver. Those people would be sent to the online insurance marketplace.

At the same time, the state is planning to add 100,000 Wisconsin childless adults with incomes below the poverty level to Medicaid.

Wisconsin is one of only four states that will reduce their Medicaid eligibility, according to the report. The other three, and the number of people who will lose coverage, will include: Maine, 35,000; Vermont, 19,000 and Rhode Island, 6,700.
Kaiser Health News collected enrollment data from the four states. The changes they plan still need federal approval, which is expected.

Millions of adults nationwide will gain Medicaid coverage next year under the Affordable Care Act.

However, Walker rejected millions in federal funding to expand Medicaid for three years in the state, according to the State Legislature’s nonpartisan Fiscal Bureau.

“The governor’s reforms balance the need to maintain a strong and sustainable health care safety net with ensuring the greatest number of people possible can afford to remain in the private health insurance market and maintain their independence,” according to a statement by the Wisconsin Department of Health.

“I want to have fewer people in the state who are uninsured, but along with that I’d like to have fewer people in the state who are dependent on government,” Walker said when announcing his plan to Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.

When told about the Kaiser report, Rep. Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee) said, “That is sad. And amazing. It’s too bad that Wisconsin isn’t leading the nation in insuring people. Instead, we are leading the nation in taking people out of (coverage)…The Legislature should act, and Gov. Walker’s administration needs to change course.”

Robert Kraig, executive director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, said, “Wisconsin has long been a health care coverage leader because of our investments in the popular BadgerCare state Medicaid program. Governor Walker’s largest in the nation cuts to Medicaid coverage are a stunning reversal which risks the health security of tens of thousands of Wisconsinites. Walker’s plan is one of the worst budget decisions in decades because it actually spends over $100 million more to cover fewer people.”

Many of the 92,000 Wisconsin adults losing Medicaid coverage already pay small monthly premiums. It is not clear how much those rates will increase in the online marketplace.

“The products designed for the marketplace were never designed for people in these low-income categories,” said Donna Friedsam, health policy program director at the University of Wisconsin told Kaiser Health News. “Even with the federal subsidies, the cost sharing will still be quite onerous.”

KHN is an editorially-independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit private operating foundation, based in Menlo Park, Calif., dedicated to producing and communicating the best possible analysis and information on health issues.

To view the full report, click here.

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