Republicans Approve Medicaid Cuts

Medicaid cuts expected to result in about 65,000 poor people leaving the health insurance programs have been approved by the Legislature’s Republican-controlled budget committee.

All Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee voted Thursday to approve the plan by Gov. Scott Walker’s administration. All four Democrats opposed it. The plan now heads to President Barack Obama’s administration for approval.

Supporters of the proposal to cut more than half a billion dollars from Medicaid said it’s necessary given rising costs in the rapidly expanding programs that currently provide services to about 20 percent of Wisconsin’s population.

But Democrats and other opponents argued the cuts are inhumane and would force the state’s most vulnerable to lose coverage. Critics said the cuts target working-class families struggling to make ends meet.

“Wisconsin needs jobs, not cuts to the programs that help us stay on our feet when we’re looking for them or trying to work through them,” said Heather Dubois, a mother who was formerly on BadgerCare.

The Obama administration must now grant a federal waiver. Without that, more than 50,000 people could lose coverage.

“If we don’t allow these waivers to go forward, our only other option is to have 50,000 people who would no longer be allowed to be part of BadgerCare system, and I think that is not a sustainable option,” said Rep. Robin Vos, R-Caledonia.

Of the about 65,000 people who would lose Medicaid eligibility, about 28,000 have access to employer-sponsored plans.