Wisconsin Gov. Walker rejects Medicaid expansion, offers own plan

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February 14, 2013

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

By Greg Janetka

MADISON, Wisconsin: Addressing a meeting of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce yesterday, Gov. Scott Walker (R) announced his decision to reject Medicaid expansion through the federal health care law. Instead, Walker offered an alternative plan that he said would reduce the number of uninsured people by nearly the same amount as Medicaid expansion.

Walker stated, "My goal in looking at this is two things: One, I want to have fewer people in the state who are uninsured, but along with that I'd like to have fewer people in the state who are dependent on the government."[1]

Under Walker's alternative plan, an enrollment cap on Medicaid programs for childless adults would be lifted, income eligibility for state residents able to use Medicaid programs would be tightened, and thousands of people currently in such programs would be moved to federal government run healthcare exchanges, allowing them to purchase private insurance.[1]

As expected, Republicans praised the decision while Democrats soundly rejected it.

Assembly Majority Leader Robin Vos stated, “I support the governor’s decision. We’re giving more people access to private health insurance without putting state tax dollars at risk. Our focus will continue to be reducing people’s reliance on government programs. We want fewer people on Medicaid and want to give people the opportunity to choose what’s best for their families."[2]

Meanwhile, Senate Democratic leader Chris Larson said, “Governor Walker made the wrong decision for Wisconsin families. Had Governor Walker chosen another path, 175,000 more working Wisconsinites could have access to health care, reports show 10,500 new jobs could be created and Wisconsin could save $495 million over the next 10 years.”[3]

Walker is the 14th Republican governor to reject the Medicaid expansion. Six GOP governors have so far agreed to the expansion.[4]