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Did Gov. Walker err in refusing to embrace key provisions of the Affordable Care Act?

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From the pages of In Business magazine.

Welcome to "Political Posturing," featuring opposing views on current issues important to Wisconsin's business community. In this column, Wisconsin Business Alliance Executive Director Lori Compas and conservative columnist David Blaska offer their opinions from the left and the right, respectively.

Walker’s program costs more but does less

Scott Walker’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act has resulted in the very type of government screw-up that he loves to hate: His plan costs more and does less.

One of the ACA’s key provisions offers federal funds to the states to allow them to expand Medicaid coverage for low-income adults. The feds guarantee payment of 100% of this cost through 2016, gradually phasing down to 90% in 2020 and thereafter. But Walker has joined more than a dozen Republican governors in refusing these funds. Other states, including Republican-led Iowa and Michigan, have opted in.

So the money we’ve paid in federal taxes is funding Medicaid expansion, but not here in Wisconsin. We’re left footing the bill for an inferior program.

And by all measures Walker’s program truly is inferior. According to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, Wisconsin could have saved $119 million through next year and covered nearly 85,000 more people by accepting the funds. It isn’t all dollars and cents, either: Harvard researchers estimate that between 7,115 and 17,104 more people will die nationwide than if all states opted in.

Despite all this, Walker bizarrely takes credit for Obamacare in a recent campaign ad, claiming “more go to sleep knowing they have access to health care.”

The truth is that Walker kicked thousands of people off Medicaid and told them to go buy insurance on the ACA marketplace. For many of the adults losing Medicaid coverage, that isn’t an affordable option, and they are likely to be uninsured. That’s why legislators added another $30 million of state funding to the budget to help hospitals cope with higher costs for uncompensated care.

Walker can’t have it both ways. He can and should change course, accept the funds, and bring a hefty portion of our federal tax dollars back to Wisconsin.

Lori Compas is a small business owner and the executive director of the nonpartisan Wisconsin Business Alliance,


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