Sunday, December 22, 2013

Scott Walker's Medicaid Bet in Wisconsin

If Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker ever runs for president, expect him to talk about his "third way" for Medicaid—a plan that rejects part of President Barack Obama's health law while extending coverage to more poor in the state. 
It is a fine line to walk for Mr. Walker, who could face a tough re-election fight next year. But his stance shows how one battle-tested Republican is trying to appeal to voters and respect conservatives' distaste for the Affordable Care Act.
Mr. Walker comes at the issue from an unusual position. Wisconsin has long provided Medicaid benefits to a wider income range than most other states, allowing adults at up to twice the poverty level to enroll. But after the state hit spending caps in 2009, the year before Mr. Walker was elected, officials suspended new enrollment, locking out tens of thousands of eligible people.
The governor's plan is to change the Medicaid rules for most adults to cover only those earning at the poverty level or below, currently $11,490 annually for a single person. That would free up funds to end the enrollment freeze and add about 82,000 adults. But an estimated 77,000 people, mostly adults, would lose their Medicaid coverage received under existing rules. 
At the same time, Mr. Walker would turn down federal money offered to states that make Medicaid available for people earning up to 133% of the poverty level. 
His approach allows him to combat criticism either for accepting the federal money or blocking a Medicaid expansion. "In our state, we didn't take that false choice. We picked a third option," Mr. Walker said last month. "For the first time in our state's history, everyone in poverty will be covered."
Read the full story HERE.

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