Pressure Increases on WI Lawmakers to Accept Medicaid Funding
Wisconsin Hospital Association Supports the Move, and Kasich Becomes the Latest Red State Governor to Endorse It
I noted in a WCCF blog post about two weeks ago that math often trumps ideology. The occasion for that observation was the decision of Arizona’s Governor, Jan Brewer, to recommend expanding Medicaid and accepting the funding for that purpose in the federal health care reform law. Ohio has now joined a growing list of states where math is prevailing over ideological resistance to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Governor John Kasich of Ohio announced today that he came to the same conclusion as Brewer and plans to use the opportunity provided by the ACA to improve access to health care because it “makes great sense for the state of Ohio.” (Read more here.) Perhaps more importantly, the Wisconsin Hospital Association made it public last Friday that they have also decided that it “makes good fiscal and policy sense” to use the ACA option to close the gaping hole in BadgerCare for low-income adults who don’t have dependent children.
Kasich and Brewer both continue to emphasize that they don’t like the ACA, aka “ObamaCare.” But polling shows that closing the gap in Medicaid is politically popular, and a number of red state governors have agreed that the federal funding is too good a deal to pass up and that preventive health care makes better sense than treating the uninsured in emergency rooms. Kasich’s decision follows the release of a report last week that concluded Ohio would save $1.4 billion from 2014 to 2022 if the state expands Medicaid.
In Ohio and most other states, hospitals have been strong proponents of taking advantage of the Medicaid option because it will significantly decrease the number of people who are uninsured. Until last week, the Wisconsin Hospital Association had been on the fence, while they weighed the alternatives. However, they ultimately concluded that failing to seize this opportunity would increase the number of Wisconsinites who are uninsured, boost the amount of uncompensated care, and increase cost shifting onto their insured patients. In a WCCF blog post today I include excerpts from the latest WHA newsletter, which explains their thinking on the issue.
Governor Walker is expected to announce on February 20 whether he will take advantage of this golden opportunity to boost the health of Wisconsin’s workforce and boost our economy as well, by using federal funds to provide care to the uninsured, rather than shifting the cost of so much uncompensated care to people who now have insurance.