Friday, February 15, 2019

The "Other" Wisconsin: Why Medicaid Expansion is the Smart, Compassionate, and Fiscally Responsible Thing to Do

By Tom Frazier

If a man from Mars had watched Governor Ever’s State of the State address, and the Republican response given by Speaker Vos, I believe that he would have concluded that they were talking about two different states.

In a way, they were.

I think that Speaker Vos was talking about the Wisconsin where well-to-do individuals and corporations are thriving in our economy, and Governor Evers was talking about the “Other” Wisconsin where people such as children, minorities and lower income are not thriving and, therefore, need help with things like healthcare. Unfortunately, there are too many people still living in the Other Wisconsin and we need to stop ignoring them.

Perhaps nothing illustrates this dichotomy more than the issue of Medicaid expansion that the Governor plans to include in his 2019-2021 state budget, and that the Speaker is adamantly opposed to. As a part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) states could choose to expand the Federal/State funded healthcare program for the poor by increasing the income eligibility to 133% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). As an incentive the federal matching rate would be 100% for the first few years gradually decreasing to 90% in 2020 and beyond. This compares to the average Wisconsin rate of 58-59%.