The Affordable Care Act, in an attempt to help establish a health care system that would cover nearly all Americans, allocated money to the 50 states to strengthen their Medicaid programs.
However, Gov. Scott Walker has decided not to take the money, and to weaken Badgercare by reducing the income cap for Badgercare recipients. Instead of expanding coverage, Walker’s plan cuts enrollment to Badgercare. Walker should reverse his decision and accept the federal funding for the state’s Medicaid program.
First of all, the state will be turning down federal money that has already been allocated for it. If the state rejects Badgercare funding provided in the Affordable Care Act, then Wisconsin tax payers will be paying for a service they are not receiving. Taxpayers will pay for other states’ Medicaid funding, but will not receive any benefit from it, unless Walker decides to accept the money.
At a time when the state is cutting funding for public education and the public sector, we should not be turning down money that would add $4.4 billion to the state budget. Because Walker is rejecting federal money, the state will have a harder time balancing its books, and this will cause cuts to public sector jobs and weaken various programs, including education. Walker’s decision will force the state to redirect other money to Medicaid. So, this doesn’t just weaken health care in the state, it weakens the entire budget.
It makes absolutely no sense, especially considering that Wisconsin ranks 44th in the nation in job creation. Rejecting $4.4 billion of federal funding is cheating the tax payer, and is bad economic practice in terms of jobs.
Why would a state that is 44th in the nation in job creation reject $4.4 billion in federal funds to instead gut Badgercare and make other cuts to the public sector? There is no logical reason for Walker to make the decision he did, and there are no positive effects of Walker rejecting the money – other than perhaps saving the federal government $4.4 billion, which is nothing when one considers the size of the federal budget.
Walker didn’t just reject federal funding for Medicaid expansion – he also plans on gutting Badgercare to a shell of what it once was.
We as a nation, and as a state, should be working toward expanding health care coverage to all. But by not accepting the federal money, Scott Walker is weakening Badgercare. Walker plans on cutting the maximum income level to qualify for Badgercare in half, from twice the federal poverty level to just the federal poverty level. Eighty-seven thousand adults, mostly parents, will lose coverage. Any individual making more than $11,490 a year, or family of four making more than $23,550 a year, would be unable to enroll in Badgercare.
Wisconsin should accept federal Medicaid funding to assure the expansion of coverage, and to redirect other funds in the state budget to programs that are underfunded. Walker’s rejection of the funds is a ridiculous and obscene political move that damages the state. Action should be taken by Walker, the Legislature or the next governor to assure that Wisconsin receives this federal money.
Spencer Lindsay ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in political science.