Democrats, others call for Wis. Medicaid expansion
MADISON, Wis. -- Democratic lawmakers and others who are calling on Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans who control the Legislature to expand Medicaid coverage in Wisconsin pointed to a new analysis Tuesday that said the state could save $65 million by accepting the federal money.
The savings would come by replacing state money to cover childless adults with money from the federal government made available under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law. The analysis was done by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau at the request of Democrats.
Walker has not said if he will take advantage of the voluntary expansion, which the U.S. Supreme Court allowed last year in its ruling upholding the constitutionality of the health care law. Walker has already rejected setting up a state-run health insurance exchange, deferring to the federal government.
Walker wasn't expected to announce his decision on Medicaid until he releases his budget on Feb. 20. His spokesman issued a statement expressing caution, noting that Congress hasn't appropriated the funding to pay for the reimbursements to states promised under the law.
"There is a possibility that the federal government will not fund the spending in this bill, which would ultimately result in state taxpayers picking up the additional cost," Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said.
An estimated 1750,000 childless adults in Wisconsin are expected to qualify for Medicaid starting in 2014 under the expansion. To qualify, the household income must be below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $15,414 for an individual this year and $20,628 for a couple.