New Figures Show Importance of Capturing Wisconsin’s Share of Medicaid Funding
The proposed budget bill contains a very substantial increase in state funding for Medicaid programs in Wisconsin, including BadgerCare, but it also makes a number of negative changes to BadgerCare and SeniorCare, as well as to other health care services for the elderly and people with disabilities.
A new Wisconsin Budget Project summary of the major health care portions of the budget bill explains that the largest factor in the increased spending is the much greater-than-anticipated growth in BadgerCare participation among adults without dependent children. The following chart uses Legislative Fiscal Bureau data to illustrate the comparative role of different parts of Medicaid in boosting the cost of maintaining current health care programs by $643 million during the 2015-17 budget.
As that bar graph shows, the state’s share of spending for childless adults is expected to grow by almost $383 million over the next two years, relative to the amount appropriated for the current fiscal year. That increase stems from the state’s decision to reject our share of the funding we have been paying into the federal treasury for the financing of Medicaid expansions.
Although the budget bill provides the additional state funding to continue childless adult coverage, it directs the Dept. of Health Services to seek a waiver that, if approved, could very substantially reduce future participation in BadgerCare by childless adults below the poverty level. And the bill contains other significant health care cuts that aren’t contingent upon federal waivers – in areas like SeniorCare, Family Care and personal care services.
The negative changes to key health care services could easily be avoided by expanding BadgerCare to cover more low-income adults, which would save an estimated $345 million during the upcoming budget period by qualifying Wisconsin for the enhanced federal funding. The savings would not only enable the state to avoid damaging cuts to health care services, but would also allow lawmakers to prevent cuts in K-12 education and many other parts of the budget.
Read more here about the proposed changes to BadgerCare, SeniorCare and Medicaid services, and about the potential for avoiding deep budget cuts by expanding BadgerCare.