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Gov. Walker confirms rejection of federal funds to expand Medicaid

by
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Governor Scott Walker confirmed Wednesday afternoon that he will not propose a full expansion of Medicaid in Wisconsin under the Obama health reform law.

The Republican Walker told the state’s largest business group at its meeting in Madison that he’ll turn down millions of dollars the federal government offered for virtually the entire expansion.

Instead, he would reduce income limits down to the poverty level for programs like BadgerCare. Walker also wants to end a cap on a program that insures childless adults, and force those above the new income limits to buy insurance from the federal exchanges which take effect in 2014.

Walker said he wants fewer people uninsured, but he also wants fewer people relying on government – and his so-called “hybrid” plan would accomplish both. Walker said it would reduce the state’s percentage of non-elderly adults without insurance from 14 percent to 7. And he said more new people would get Medicaid coverage than recent figures from the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

Those analysts said a full expansion of Medicaid would cause about 175,000 extra people to sign up. Walker said the full expansion would have covered 252,000 more – and his package doesn’t cover that much less, at 224,600.

Democrats decried the Walker plan, which will go to the Legislature next week. Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca called it “right wing extremism.”

House Democrat Ron Kind of La Crosse said he could not imagine a better deal from Washington to pay for Medicaid coverage, “in my lifetime.” 

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