Our guest blogger is Sandy Bogar, a health care policy intern with the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
As a Madison native, I have experienced conflicting feelings for the last several weeks. I continue to be inspired by Wisconsinites rallying and denouncing the budget repair bill that the Republican Senators passed without the consent of their Democratic colleagues. This bill is a political attack on Wisconsin citizens’ rights and not, in fact, an attempt to ameliorate the State deficit challenges.
Yet disappointingly there has been a complete lack of action on Walker’s proposed reforms to Wisconsin’s Medicaid program. A fifth of all Wisconites — more than 1.2 million people — rely on BadgerCare. Walker and the state’s GOP are trying to put control of the program in the hands of Walker’s conserative appointees.
Walker’s proposed budget would give the state’s Health Services secretary Dennis Smith, who has called on states to drop Medicaid altogether, the authority to “to override state Medicaid laws as [he] sees fit and institute sweeping changes” including reducing benefits and limiting eligibility. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, the bill would essentially silence the voices of Wisconsin citizens when future changes to Medicaid are made:
Consequently, Wisconsin residents who normally get a chance to voice their views to the state legislature on proposed changes to BadgerCare — e.g., changes to who gets coverage, what benefits they receive, and how much doctors and hospitals get reimbursed — would have to find some way to influence the governor. That could prove disastrous for the more than 1.1 million low-income children, seniors, people with disabilities, and adults who rely on BadgerCare for their health coverage, and the providers that serve them.
As with the cuts made to collective bargaining, this represents a clear rights violation, not an attempt to fix the State budget. Medicaid recipients represent the most vulnerable populations in the State and Wisconsin currently maintains some of the most well-respected Medicaid programs in the nation. This bill threatens to further marginalize our state’s poor, elderly, and disabled citizens and downgrade a public health system that has assisted residents for more than twenty years.