MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) - Gov. Scott Walker is opting out of another element of ObamaCare. The governor announced Wednesday that he would not accept millions in federal money to expand Medicaid in Wisconsin, under the health care reform law. Walker is now the 14th Republican governor to decline an offer by federal officials, to expand Medicaid free of charge, for a period of three years. Instead, he is proposing a hybrid approach, that he believes will provide more people health coverage.
At a meeting of the state chamber of commerce is Madison, Gov. Walker announced his own plan for the state's Medicaid program. One that he says will make more adults eligible for care and cut the state's uninsured rate of 14 percent in half.
"My goal in looking at this is two things," Walker said," I want to have fewer people in this state who are uninsured. But along with that I would like to have fewer people in this state who are dependent on the government."
The governor is rejecting federal funding to expand Medicaid in Wisconsin. Instead he is proposing these changes: to reduce income limits for existing programs like BadgerCare; to lift a cap on a program that insures childless adults, and to force those above new proposed income limits, to buy insurance from the new federal exchanges which open in 2014. Walker says with these changes 224,000more people in the state will be insured.
"In the end, it's a way for us to manage our cost and a way to move people off of what routinely has been a heavily driven government subsidy, which is Medicaid," Walker said.
The governor says expanding Medicaid with federal dollars, would have allowed for coverage of 252,000 people - and his plan falls just short of that goal.
"Some will portray this as not caring about people," said Walker. "I think it's just the opposite. I care too much about the people of this state not to empower them to control their own destiny."
Walker, an outspoken critic of the health care bill, says if Wisconsin had accepted the funds, eventually the state's share of the costs would have escalated. Democrats today called the deal "too good to turn down."