Something must be done about the state of Wisconsin’s $550 million Medicaid deficit, and nobody argues such a contention. However, the current proposal being floated by the Secretary of the Department of Health Services, Dennis Smith, leaves too many people (children especially) out in the cold.
Smith ran the Medicaid system under former President Bush. Despite consensus about the need for action, a new consensus is building that Smith and the DHS need to go back to the drawing board. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the proposed plan will have the following effect:
BY THE NUMBERS
64,748: Number of people likely to drop from Medicaid rolls as a result of state’s proposal.
29,120: Number of children among that number.
554,000,000: Depth (in dollars) of Medicaid budget hole.
For these changes to be enacted, the federal Department of Health Services must sign off on a waiver. So, efforts are being made to influence the DHS to reject the waiver until a new plan that affects fewer children is drawn up:
In Wisconsin, the Medicaid rolls have increased at a rate nearly 10 times the rate of population growth. The state has an estimated $554 million deficit in state and federal money through June 2013 in Medicaid health programs, programs that now cover one in five Wisconsin residents.
But fewer people likely will be covered in the future, whether the state gets a federal waiver or not. According to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, 65,000 people, nearly half of them kids, would either leave the programs or be turned out under the changes Smith is proposing. If Wisconsin doesn’t get federal approval by Dec. 31 – and that looks like a tall order given the politics involved – the state would be free on its own under current rules to drop 53,000 adults by increasing eligibility requirements.
Smith’s plan would take a number of steps to tighten standards, including sizable increases in premiums. In some cases, premiums would increase almost tenfold. The proposals also include moving 263,000 people in BadgerCare Plus into a lower cost plan with fewer benefits. Both adults and kids could be dropped from the program for one year if they failed to pay their monthly premium without a valid excuse.
One might think that Governor Scott Walker, in the throes of the political fight of his life, would seize the political capital available to anybody intervening on behalf of the children of the state. Instead, according to JSOnline:
The administration of Gov. Scott Walker argues that many of those families will find a way to cover their kids.
Something needs to be done about Wisconsin’s Medicaid program. Sadly, those in charge of finding the solution are looking to radical ideology instead of common sense compromises. The children of Wisconsin need health insurance, not gambles on idealism.