Walker Mum About Medicaid Changes
He was going to get tough on Medicaid recipients, now runs away from the issue.
Gov. Scott Walker, who has been re-branding himself as the “Education Governor” and making other changes in his image during this campaign, is also running away from his proposal to penalize Medicaid recipients who lack a job.
As Politico reports today: “Walker sought for years to put Medicaid health recipients to work. Now federal officials have given him most of what he wanted, but he’s delaying the process for fear the changes will doom his flailing reelection bid, say three federal officials familiar with the deliberations.”
“Wisconsin’s been stalling,” said one federal official to Politico, noting that the Trump administration “has been ready to formally approve and announce the state’s new work requirements for weeks.”
But the Walker administration denied they were stalling, “saying the state needs time to iron out the details and blaming delays on the Trump administration,” the story reported.
Nationally, Democrats have been hammering “the message the GOP is working to strip health protections from millions of people,” Politico reports. “Democrats have an 18-point national advantage on health care, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll.”
Medicaid covers low-income participants and Walker has a long history of resistance to it, rejecting federal funds to expand the program in Wisconsin that has cost state taxpayers more than $1 billion to make up the difference. And in January 2017 the governor announced a plan that would make it tougher for recipients to continue getting Medicaid. Walker implied he was going after loafers dependent on government health care. “We fundamentally believe that public assistance should be a trampoline, not a hammock,” he said.
But some of his requested Medicaid changes were deemed impermissible by the Trump administration, Politico reports. “For instance, Walker sought to drug-test beneficiaries, which the federal health department rejected; Federal Medicaid officials instead will permit Wisconsin to ask beneficiaries about their illegal drug use. But other measures, like requiring beneficiaries to pay toward their care, were approved by the Trump administration, which finalized the work requirements weeks ago.”
Indeed the Trump administration was teasing the changes for Wisconsin weeks ago, only to see Walker’s staff stall the issue. It’s unlikely the governor will address the issue before the election, giving the Marquette Law School poll showing health care is the second most important issue for state voters, behind education.
Walker has a long history of camouflaging his views on real views during campaigns. His 2010 campaign was mum about his sweeping plan to crush state employee unions. And he promised private sector union leaders he wouldn’t sign a right-to-work law during the 2014 campaign and then did so after he was reelected. Should he win a third term, you can bet he will embrace the changes to Medicaid he is now delaying.
Health care organizations in Wisconsin have denounced Walker’s proposed changes to Medicaid, Politico reported, “with the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families arguing the plan could hurt local health — as well as the state’s booming economy — because tens of thousands of residents could lose health coverage. ‘With more people uninsured, Wisconsin’s workforce would be less healthy,’ the council concluded.
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