BadgerCare Debate Not Over

Citizens Across Wisconsin push legislature to reverse budget committee rejection of BadgerCare funds

By Kevin Kane, Healthcare Organizer: Citizen Action of Wisconsin

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Events took place across Wisconsin on Wednesday expressing indignation and moral outrage about the Joint Finance Committee’s vote to reject billions of federal dollars for BadgerCare. There was a state-wide media call and live events in Milwaukee, Appleton, La Crosse, Eau Claire, and Wausau. Citizen Action of Wisconsin also released a video response to the committee vote.

The resounding message from citizens across Wisconsin is that the full Legislature has a moral obligation to reverse the decision when the budget reaches the Senate and Assembly in two weeks. Even if the Legislature does not reverse the decision, the debate is far from over because there is no federal deadline. Wisconsin can accept enhanced federal funds for BadgerCare at any time.

“What the Governor and legislators have done is financial malpractice, a human tragedy in the making,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of the national organization for health consumers Families USA, speaking on a media call hosted by Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “Nine other conservative governors have taken federal funds for their Medicaid programs, Wisconsin’s move is lose-lose for everyone and reverses Wisconsin’s long status as a national health care leader.”

There were events in five cities to denounce the stunningly callous and immoral act of spending more state and federal funds to cover fewer people. Advocates, faith leaders, health providers and civic leaders spoke out Wednesday in La Crosse, Milwaukee, Appleton, Wausau and Eau Claire to call on State Senators Ellis, Petrowski, Cowles, Moulton, Schultz, Leibham, and Olsen to stand up for what is right and economically vital for our state. All of these Republican Senators have expressed reservations about Governor Walker’s plan to reject the federal funds.

“I believe Wisconsin will follow all of our neighboring states and take the enhanced federal funds for Badgercare, the only question is how long it takes and how many Wisconsin families have to go without healthcare before the politicians yield to public pressure to do the right thing,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “The stunning decision to send billions of federal dollars back to Washington, and spend hundreds of millions more in state dollars to provide health coverage for tens of thousands fewer people, is morally indefensible and will not stand for the long haul.”

The Joint Finance Committee’s vote will block access to BadgerCare for tens of thousands and will kick 84,700 Wisconsinites off BadgerCare. This will cost Wisconsin $149 million more in the next two years alone, when extra state payments to hospitals to reimburse them for the increased number of patients who are uninsured or can’t pay their medical bills are included.

The decision whether to accept federal funds for Wisconsin’s BadgerCare program must be voted on in the Assembly and Senate later this month.

Organizations participating in Wednesday’s state-wide actions include Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Jobs Now, Wisconsin Federal of Nurses and Health Professionals, Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, AMOS, ESTHER, MICAH, Center for Quality Community Life, Families Moving Forward Coalition, AFSCME Council 40, AFSCME District Council 48, 9to5 Association of Working Women, Wisconsin Breast Cancer Coalition, Wisconsin Business Alliance, League of Women Voters Education Network, Alzheimers’ Association of SE WI, Wisconsin Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Wisconsin Alliance of Retired Americans, Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice, Organizing for Action Fox Cities, and county supervisors in La Crosse and Eau Claire counties.

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Last edited by Tyler Schuster.   Page last modified on June 06, 2013

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