The following testimony was provided by AARP volunteer advocate Caryl Ligler at the Joint Finance Public Hearing in Rice Lake on March 23, 2015.
Good morning. My name is Caryl Ligler. I am a Trego resident and volunteer advocate for AARP Wisconsin. I am serving as the spokesperson for the group of AARP Wisconsin Advocates here today.
We advocate on behalf of people 50 years and older. Many receive their healthcare coverage through the childless adult program.
AARP Wisconsin has four major issues they wish either included in or removed from the Governor’s proposed budget. We hope to see the language concerning SeniorCare and the changes to Family Care removed. We hope to improve the budget by adding Medicaid expansion and including the language in the proposed Wisconsin Private Secure Retirement Act. Since there are four hearings and four important positions for AARP Wisconsin, we plan to address one of these important issues at each of the four hearings. Today we are going to share our concerns about the proposed changes to BadgerCare’s childless adult program.
Under the 2013-15 Wisconsin State budget, Wisconsin created a unique solution to the challenge of covering childless adults. They extended BadgerCare coverage to childless adults up to 100% of the federal poverty level (FPL) and funded it with the traditional state match. This was done in order to cover this population without accepting Medicaid expansion. Now the Governor’s budget is proposing to radically change the program for childless adults including adding premiums and limiting the time people may be on the program. This is an admission that the program in the last budget has failed. We believe that the proper response to the failure is to accept Medicaid expansion.
Accepting Medicaid expansion would keep the childless adults currently on the program in the program. It would add childless adults between 100% FPL and 138% FPL thus providing coverage to many more people. It would also bring additional revenue into the state budget. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates it would provide additional revenue of $345 million. This needed revenue could be used elsewhere in the Medicaid budget or for other needed programs. We would have a win-win situation with more people insured and more money available in the state budget.
Polling and recent referendums have shown wide public support for the acceptance of Medicaid expansion. All 19 of the fall county referendums asking if people thought the state should accept Medicaid expansion passed. Eleven of those counties which passed the referendums also supported Governor Walker’s re-election. This is not a partisan issue. It is a pathway forward supported by many people as reflected in the referendums and in the Marquette polling.
The times and circumstances change. We must change with those times. It is time to include full Medicaid expansion in the budget. We ask that you do so to help many childless adults.
Thank you for this opportunity to testify.