Rally challenges Medicaid cuts
Citizens gathered along Tower Avenue in Superior Monday to focus on a "hidden" Medicaid provision in the budget repair bill. They said it has been overshadowed by the controversy surrounding collective bargaining rights for most public employees,...
Citizens gathered along Tower Avenue in Superior Monday to focus on a "hidden" Medicaid provision in the budget repair bill. They said it has been overshadowed by the controversy surrounding collective bargaining rights for most public employees, which would be stripped away by the bill.
The budget repair bill would allow the Department of Health Services to implement certain changes such as modifying benefits and reducing income levels for purposes of determining eligibility. And they could do so without putting the changes before the entire Legislature. The Joint Finance Committee would be tapped to review them.
Advocates with North County Independent Living said the provision could have dire consequences for the 1.2 million people in the state who rely on Medicaid programs.
"Potentially sweeping and far-reaching changes affecting thousands of Wisconsinites should not be made without open debate and legislative oversight," wrote Director John Nousaine in a press release.
"I'm here to speak for the children," said Dave Cochrane, executive director of Family Forum Head Start, who attended the rally. About 78 percent of the families with children in the program depend on BadgerCare for health insurance. "Is this about money or is this about people?"
University of Wisconsin-Superior student Heather Lake is one of those who could be affected. The single mother has been on BadgerCare for the last four years. It allows her to work part time while attending school. Without that insurance, Lake said, she is "one accident, one illness away from losing everything."
Medicaid enrollment has soared in Wisconsin, according to a report released Sunday by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance. In the past 13 years, it has increased 191 percent. Last year, one in 5 Wisconsin residents was enrolled in a state Medicaid program.
The Wisconsin State Journal quoted the report as saying, "State leaders need to confront these challenges," and that "any new money for Medicaid will likely come at the expense of other state programs, most notably education and property tax relief."