Jun 27, 201712:29 PMInside Wisconsin
with Tom Still
Wisconsin could be big loser under Senate health care plan
(page 1 of 2)
As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on a Republican proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the possibility looms that Wisconsin could lose billions of dollars over time for the very reason the GOP hated Obamacare in the first place.
That reason was the required expansion of Medicaid to more people and services, which Wisconsin rejected after the ACA was passed in 2010 based on calculations it would cost the state more than the federal aid was worth.
Now, some of the same Republicans in Congress who thought Medicaid expansion was a bad idea from the start are poised to pass a bill that would penalize those states that refused to do so.
Confused? So are many experts in the health care community, who are urging Wisconsin’s U.S. senators to find ways to eliminate what the Wisconsin Hospital Association has estimated as a $36.9 billion loss in federal aid by 2025.
Wisconsin partially expanded its Medicaid health program for the needy known as BadgerCare Plus some years ago. It didn’t do so fully, however, which meant the state has missed out on additional matching dollars from federal taxpayers.
By 2025, the 19 states that didn't expand Medicaid will lose out on $684 billion in additional federal money, an amount that would translate into $37 billion for Wisconsin alone, based on a report from the Missouri Hospital Association.
To date, Wisconsin taxpayers have spent $679 million more than they would have under a full expansion of Medicaid, the Legislature's non-partisan budget office has estimated.
The Senate measure, like the House bill, would phase out the extra money the federal government has provided to states as an incentive to expand eligibility for Medicaid. That phase-out would begin in 2021 and be nearly complete by 2024. Like the House bill, the Senate measure would put the entire Medicaid program on a diet, ending the open-ended entitlement that now exists.
In both bills, however, the Medicaid phase-out is delayed — which is why Wisconsin health care organizations are concerned.
“It locks in a massive (health care) funding disparity between expansion and non-expansion states,” said Eric Borgerding, CEO of the Wisconsin Hospital Association. “It’s really sort of astounding that you have states that rejected Obamacare and now in the bill they’re being penalized for rejecting it.”