As advocates for all Wisconsinites as we age, we prefer to look at the Joint Finance Committee’s decision to remove Medicaid expansion from the proposed 2019-21 budget as simply the first mile of a marathon. The race has started, but it's far, far from over.
Over the next several weeks we will engage with our members, state lawmakers, the media and all Wisconsinites to drive home our contention that accepting Medicaid expansion funds is the right thing for Wisconsin.
This isn’t about welfare. It’s about wellness and well-being for all. We’ll need your help to accomplish this. First, visit this website to find out exactly how your Wisconsin county would be impacted by Medicaid expansion. Then click here to send a message directly to your state Representative to let him/her know how important it is to include this important funding on our next state budget.
This is just the opening round of negotiations. What we need now more than anything is to get Wisconsinites to contact their legislators to stress the importance of keeping full Medicaid expansion in the state budget. Pressure from constituents can go a long way towards swaying lawmakers’ opinions on issues of such critical importance, like this one.
If full Medicaid expansion is not included in the budget, Wisconsinites could lose out on about $1.6 billion in federal funding over the two-year budget cycle to expand Medicaid and health care programs it supports. Not only will the state lose money, but tens of thousands of hardworking Wisconsinites won’t be able to get affordable health care. These workers are age 50 to 64 and many of their employers don’t offer health care coverage.
The governor’s proposed budget includes full Medicaid expansion and uses the revenue to provide health care coverage to more than 80,000 additional Wisconsinites. By doing this we would also improve the health of all residents by adding access to dental care, dementia care specialists, and other vital programs.
More than 150 red-shirted AARP volunteer advocates filled the front rows of all four state budget hearings last month in Janesville, Oak Creek, River Falls and Green Bay, to testify about the importance of including Medicaid expansion in the budget.
Currently, Wisconsin’s Medicaid program, called BadgerCare, covers adults up to 100% of the federal poverty line (FPL), or about $20,780 per year for a family of three. If the state fully expands Medicaid, about 80,000 adults between 100% and 138% of the FPL would also be covered by BadgerCare.
Expanding Medicaid would not only increase the number of adults who are insured, but it would improve a variety of health and economic outcomes for individuals and the state. This is real money that our state can use to help Wisconsinites live, work, raise families and age with dignity. We look forward to working with the governor and legislature to make this expansion happen.