Walker says no to federal Medicaid expansion

MADISON — Wisconsin won't be expanding its Medicaid programs.

Governor Walker announced today he won't accept billions of dollars in federal money. The decision is not sitting well with state Democrats.

Walker says he wants more people to be insured and fewer people to rely on government. He says the solution to those goals wouldn't come from federal money for a Medicaid expansion.

“Not only is it better for me and you as a taxpayer, because there is less of a federal/state match that we have to plug into Medicaid, it empowers people to have greater control over their lives,” said Walker.

Governor Walker says that empowerment will come from fewer people depending on Medicaid. Instead, he wants more to qualify for a new government-run marketplace to buy insurance that debuts next year. 

“It will cost the state $66 million and has people relying on the health care exchanges set up under Obamacare that Walker has done everything in his power to make sure it doesn't work properly for Wisconsin,” said State Rep. Jon Richards, a Democrat from Milwaukee.

Under the governor's plan, 224,580 people will become insured. However, if he had accepted the federal money, the governor admits about an additional 28,000 people would have been insured.  And he also concedes about 96,000 more people would have qualified for Medicaid under the federal plan.

“I don't see how anyone comes out ahead here except for the Tea Party,” said Richards.

The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates the state could have received about $4.4 billion through 2020. Walker says it would have been a risky move.

“But it’s also important in doing it in a way that makes good long-term financial sense and in a way we control our destiny here in Wisconsin, we don't leave it up to the federal government,” said Walker.

The head of Prevea Health agrees with Governor Walker's decision.

“Moving them to private insurance, not only are we giving them coverage, but opportunity to get into programs that private insurance companies offer and healthcare providers offer to make our population healthier,” said Dr. Ashok Rai.

Governor Walker's decision makes him the 14th Republican to turn down the expansion. Six have agreed to it.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Wisconsin (change)

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Wisconsin’s population totaled 5,686,986, a 6.0% increase over the 2000 U.S. Census count of 5,363,715. (Source: Wisconsin Blue Book)
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Governor: Scott Walker
Lieutenant Governor: Rebecca Kleefisch
Attorney General: J.B. Van Hollen

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