The Republican-controlled budget committee voted Monday to
go along with Republican Gov. Scott Walker's plan that
delays expanding Medicaid coverage to poor childless adults
for three months, despite pleas from advocates who said such
a move was immoral.
expands Medicaid coverage in January to about 83,000
childless adults who earn less than the poverty level. At
the same time, about 72,000 parents and caretakers receiving
Medicaid now who earn more than poverty level would be
kicked off the program. Those people would have to purchase
insurance and could do so through the federally run health
citing the widely acknowledged problems with the federal
exchange website, last month proposed delaying kicking
people out of Medicaid until April. That would give them
three additional months to purchase insurance. To pay for
that continuation of coverage, Walker also proposed delaying
expanding Medicaid for the childless adults until April.
Republican-controlled Legislature is moving quickly on
Walker's plan. The Joint Finance Committee voted 11-2 Monday
to pass the bill, with all Republicans and one Democrat in
support and two Democrats against. The Assembly is slated to
take it up Wednesday, with the Senate voting later this
including AARP Wisconsin and a coalition of religious
leaders, told the committee at Monday's hearing that the
Legislature should delay kicking people out of Medicaid but
allow expanding coverage to the childless adults to happen
on time in January.
current plan "doesn't make moral sense," said
Bobby Peterson, executive director of the health care
advocacy group ABC for Health, a public-interest law firm in
Madison that helps connect Wisconsin families with health
who control the committee bristled at the criticism, saying
it was the poor rollout of the federal website that's
forcing them to delay the coverage expansion to give those
who face losing Medicaid more time to purchase private
we like to do more? Of course," said Sen. Alberta
Darling, the Republican co-chair of the committee. "But
in these three months we're doing what we can do."
Nygren, the other Republican co-chair, called the rollout of
the health exchange website a "disaster," noting
that as of mid-November only 877 people in Wisconsin had
purchased coverage through it.
rejected federal money to expand Medicaid. Instead, Walker
and the Legislature lowered Medicaid eligibility for parents
and caretaker relatives from 200 percent to 100 percent of
poverty, reducing the number of people on the program, while
expanding Medicaid to childless adults below poverty. The
childless adult program has been closed to new enrollees
poverty level is $11,490 for an individual, $15,510 for a
couple and $23,550 for a family of four.
amendments to accept the federal money to expand Medicaid
and to have coverage for childless adults begin in January,
instead of April, were rejected.
Richards, the Democrat who voted for the bill, said he was
backing it because he supported the three-month enrollment
extension. He was opposed to the three-month delay for the
childless adult expansion.
is an imperfect Band-Aid on a mistake the Legislature and
governor created, a completely avoidable problem that we
failed to fix today," Richards said.
high-risk insurance pool also is slated to disappear at the
beginning of the year, leaving about 20,000 more people
without coverage. Walker's bill allows those people to
retain their coverage for three more months as well.
— funded by a mix of money from health care providers,
insurance companies and premiums — offers coverage for
people with serious conditions who can't get it elsewhere.
The federal health care law requires insurance companies to
provide coverage regardless of a person's condition,
eliminating the need for the pools.