MADISON (WSAU) Governor Scott Walker is expected to tell a Wisconsin business audience this afternoon that he’ll support a limited expansion of Badger-Care and other Medicaid health programs. And he’ll do it without taking the federal money that’s being offered. But liberals said the Republican Walker needs to either support a full expansion of Medicaid or nothing at all, as part of the Obama health reform package. Under a full expansion, 175,000 childless adults would become eligible for Medicaid in Wisconsin, making less than 138-percent of the federal poverty level. But after some sketchy information was leaked out yesterday, Jon Peacock of the Wisconsin Council of Children-and-Families said he feared that Walker would move current Badger-Care-Plus recipients above the poverty line into the federal health exchange plans – thus reducing the numbers of people gaining Medicaid.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said Walker would do some of that – but his plan would still provide a net increase of about 35,000 people into the state’s health programs. Walker confirmed yesterday that he wants to seek a middle path that’s not quote, “a black-and-white issue.” But Robert Kraig of the group Citizen Action said he doesn’t know of such a middle path in the Obama health law. Assembly Democrat Sandy Pasch of Shorewood said Walker will either make a “bold investment” in Badger-Care or he won’t.
Democrats have urged Walker to take the federal Medicaid expansion and the millions-of-federal dollars that come with it. But Republicans fear that Washington will turn off the funding spigot someday, leaving states to either find the money or drop coverage. G-O-P Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says Wisconsin could expand Medicaid later, after seeing how other states are faring. Vos says he wants the most flexibility possible.