Last week, we released our analysis of the state budget and the damaging effects it imposes on women’s health, safety and economic security issues. As the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health (WAWH) reflects on what Wisconsin women and families heard from Governor Walker during the State of the State Address we are disheartened, to say the least.
During his speech, Governor Walker made little mention to many recent health care proposals – including stopping implementation of health care reform in the state, and proposals that threaten to kick thousands of individuals off of BadgerCare and other Medicaid programs – instead he misleadingly stated, “Some states cut core services like Medicaid. But in Wisconsin, we added some $1.2 billion to Medicaid and our reforms allow us to expand Family Care- our long-term care program for seniors – all across the state.”
While accurate in saying he added money to Medicaid – to make up for federal funding we are no longer receiving in this biennium – he failed to mention the millions in cuts he called on the Department of Health Services (DHS) to make when he gave the department authority to make drastic cuts with little legislative oversight in the state budget. Additionally, while the recent plan – required by the federal government – to expand FamilyCare in more counties and lift the enrollment cap, that the Governor had previously placed, this has yet to be done.
Expansions previously made to Medicaid are essential to women and girls in today’s economy and maintaining a nation-leading record for covering those in need of services is a must. We had hoped to see the Administration seek savings by improving efforts to increase efficiency of health care system by using rate reform, expand provider assessments and moving forward with implementation of the Affordable Care Act to create more avenues for Wisconsinites to obtain affordable coverage – which addresses many concerns to the increases in Medicaid as they are largely due to increases to overall health care costs.
Instead, the Governor has decided to halt reforms to health care by putting a stop to the creation of a state-based Exchange – risking a federal government takeover of the Exchange development – and impose large cuts to BadgerCare and other needed Medicaid programs which threatens the health and wellbeing of thousands of Wisconsinites. It is unfortunate that Walker undermined the importance of these recent decisions by making minimal mention to the health care situation in the state in his address.
WAWH will continue to advocate for common-sense approaches to health reform by encouraging policymakers to move forth with meaningful health care reform implementation and salvaging needed health safety nets. To see more on how the state budget threatens the health of Wisconsin women and girls, you can view our analysis, here.