BadgerCare Advocates Debunk Republicans’ Health Care Myth
Advocates for an Affordable Care Act-expanded
Medicaid program in Wisconsin have been calling on Gov. Scott Walker to listen
to reason and accept roughly $4 billion in federal funds to offer BadgerCare
programs to more low-income Wisconsinites.
Their latest attempt to provide Republicans with a
reality check is to shoot down the GOP's allegation that the funding under the ACA
is somehow not reliable. The tea partiers—including Walker and Congressman Paul Ryan—say that if Wisconsin expands BadgerCare
with 100% federal money now, the state won’t be able to rely on those funds in the
future and state taxpayers will be stuck footing the bill.
This is what is allegedly keeping Republicans up at
Robert Kraig, executive director of Citizen Action,
called Republicans’ worries “the opposite of true.”
He noted that about 28% of Walker’s proposed
biennial budget is made up of federal dollars and much of that consists of
appropriations that members of Congress must act on each year. You know,
federal funds for education and highways and law enforcement. Things like that.
These unreliable funds are what Walker feels are so reliable they belong in his
The ACA funds, on the other hand, are written into
law as part of Medicaid. Like Social Security, Medicare and the rest of the Medicaid program, they
If members of Congress like Paul Ryan wanted to shut the ACA down
and make it less reliable they’d have to rewrite the law, pass it in both
houses, then convince President Obama (or whomever succeeds him) to sign it.
Ryan can threaten to do it, but it's just not going to happen anytime soon.
Former Democratic Congressman Dave Obey, the
longtime chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said he was “amazed and
flabbergasted” by Walker’s refusal to take the $4 billion in federal funds, and
said he never wanted to hear any more complaints about Wisconsin being
shortchanged when it comes to federal dollars flowing back into the state.
This money is “tied down specifically in law,” Obey
said, with a presumption that it would continue.
Jon Peacock, the research director for the Wisconsin
Council on Children and Families, said the more he looked at Walker’s proposal
“the more perplexed I become.”
Well, that’s because Peacock is looking at this
rationally. Walker’s own Medicaid
proposal would cost state taxpayers an additional $100 million in the next
two-year budget while providing coverage for fewer people. It makes no sense.
In reality, Walker is refusing federal funds to provide access to health
insurance so that he can raise his national profile with tea party
contributors. Walker’s plan is utterly political, not practical.
Let’s hope that members of the Joint Finance Committee are just as perplexed by Walker’s plan as Peacock is.