Governor Walker seeks federal waiver to maintain BadgerCare

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) - It's been four years since Governor Walker turned down federal funding for Medicaid expansion in Wisconsin. Now his administration is planning to do it again. Local 5's Kris Schuller reports on a public hearing held today dealing with that decision.

When the federal government offered funding to states for Medicaid expansion in 2013, Gov. Walker declined. Instead, through a federal waiver, he enacted changes to the state's version of Medicaid known as BadgerCare.

Today at the Brown County Central Library, the Department of Health Services held a sparsely attended hearing to gather public comments on a state request for an extension of the BadgerCare waiver.

The department says the federal waiver has allowed the elimination of enrollment caps and now provides coverage for every childless adult at or below the poverty line.

“Prior to the implementation of our reform we had tens of thousands of individuals on wait lists for healthcare and because of the governor's actions we've been able to insure access for that,” said Casey Himebauch, interim Medicaid director. 

But critics argue there are some 80,000 people who could receive BadgerCare if eligibility was raised to 133 percent of the poverty line and the governor accept federal expansion dollars.

“Common sense would say it's our money and we always complain in our state of being 48th or 49th for getting federal dollars back to the states -  and here we go again,” said Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay).

The governor has rejected the federal dollars over concerns the funding may one day dry up. Democrats says the decision has cost the state over $1 billion so far.


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