Walker/GOP negative health-care strategy: avoid federal aid by ... using federal aid! | WisCommunity

Walker/GOP negative health-care strategy: avoid federal aid by ... using federal aid!

Rather than accept millions of dollars in federal funding to bolster Medicaid in our state, Gov. Scott Walker decided it's more important to continue opposing the health care reform act ("Obamacare" to Republicans). So, unlike surrounding midwestern states, he wants to turn down that federal aid claiming it'll be just temporary and there's no guarantee the feds will continue to provide the funding indefinitely -- which, by the way, was also his rationale for turning down nearly a billion dollars for high-speed passenger rail.

But lookee here: State Republican legislators, reviewing the governor's proposal, accepted pleas from hospitals that increased emergency room treatment for low-income people under the Walker plan would badly dent their finances. So the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) last week added tens of millions of dollars to Walker's budget to cover at least some of those higher costs. In making the numbers work, the JFC voted to accept millions of dollars of ... temporary federal funding!

So, assuming Walker doesn't veto that provision should as expected it passes the entire legislature, Wisconsin will have "avoided" the "risk" of accepting more temporary federal funds by (ahem!) accepting more temporary federal funds! And at a much higher cost to state taxpayers with lower coverage for low-income residents. Such a deal.

See the URL in the links below for more detail. Here's the takeaway summary:

... the Governor’s plan is now expected to cost state taxpayers about $490 million GPR more during the period 2014 through fiscal year 2021, compared to the BadgerCare compromise on the committee. 

Of course, Walker's federal aid "risk" argument is bogus. It's just an excuse for his actual intent, which is to kick people off Badgercare, the state's version of Medicaid. Governor I-want-to-help-them-become-independent thinks low-income working people beginning next year willl be able to go to the health care act's new private insurance exchanges -- which he moved to delay -- and get affordable coverage in place of Medicaid. But experts say that will be financially impossible for many of the 90,000 parents Walker seeks to throw off Badgercare.

That impossibility will worsen the problem of lower-income Wisconsin residents showing up at expensive emergency rooms that must accept them -- hence the JFC's mitigating action. But Walker's stance does have, at least in his mind, the advantage of being ideologically pure and a great campaign talking point.

All of which, if you'll pardon the allusion, will create a high-speed train wreck of rising health care costs and worsening health in this state. Expect Walker, who though unannounced already has begun running for president, to campaign mightily on his self-created example. Obamacare is failing us! But I didn't help make that happen! His alternative is not Walkercare -- it's Walkercarelessness.


June 10, 2013 - 10:48am