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Legislature Joint Finance Committee approves $554 million in cuts to Medicaid


MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - A state committee voted 11-to-4 Thursday afternoon in favor of cutting over a half-billion dollars from Wisconsin’s Medicaid health programs for the poor-and-elderly. All four Democrats on the Legislature’s Joint Finance panel voted against the cuts, and the 11 Republicans at voted yes. The GOP said the cuts were necessary to eliminate a deficit in Medicaid caused by rising costs and a large expansion of enrollments due to both the rough economy, and expanded program offerings. But Democrats called the cuts inhumane. Meanwhile, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau said the number of Medicaid recipients who could lose their coverage has grown from an estimate of 53,000 people to around 65,000 – half of them children. But the Bureau said about 28,000 would have access to health coverage at their workplaces at a cost of less than 9.5% of their household incomes. Under the Walker administration’s cuts, an upwardly-revised figure of 263,000 Badger-Care Plus recipients would be moved to lower-cost plans. But the federal government would have to approve that move by January first, and if it doesn’t, the 65,000 at risk would lose their coverage. Assembly GOP Finance Chair Robin Vos said he wished the state could do more, but it doesn’t have the money. But Senate Democrat Bob Jauch of Poplar accused the GOP of quote, “waging a campaign against social justice – and the enemy appears to be working-class families who are struggling to make ends meet.” The state’s plan now goes to Washington – where federal officials are required to approve about half of it.