Budget Panel Rejects Medicaid Expansion

The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee is standing by Governor Walker’s decision to reject federal funding to expand the Wisconsin’s Medicaid programs. The budget provision adopted on a 12-4 party line vote Tuesday allows the state’s poorest residents to enroll in BadgerCare, while pushing those living above the federal poverty line toward federal exchanges. State Representative Pat Strachota (R-West Bend) defended the plan as the responsible way to deal with implementing the federal health care law, while lamenting the fact that Wisconsin even has to make changes to comply with the contentious overhaul. Wisconsin is one of more than a dozen states to reject federal dollars that would allow those living at up to 133 percent above the federal poverty line to enroll in Medicaid programs. Democrats argue the decision means Wisconsin will miss out on about $120 million in federal funding and end up costing state taxpayers more money up front. However, Governor Walker and Republicans have expressed concerns about the long term availability of that funding.