Federal Court Hands Governor Walker Third Defeat This Month
Health care lawsuit against his administration moves forward
Madison—Governor Scott Walker lost yet another court battle this month when a federal judge ruled that a lawsuit filed against his administration for denying health care to Wisconsin residents should go forward.
Last summer two Milwaukee County women with serious health problems sued the state after Walker’s health department refused to lift an enrollment cap on the BadgerCare Plus Core health plan, even though there was room available to serve more people.
Walker administration attorneys tried to convince U.S. District Court Judge William Conley that the women had no rights under federal Medicaid law to sue the state in this case. Conley summarily rejected their arguments and ruled last week that the suit should go forward. It was the third time this month that Conley has ruled against the Walker administration.
Rep. Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee) praised Conley’s decision, but said it highlights a worrisome trend.
“People who need and deserve health care should be able to access it in Wisconsin,” Richards said. “Instead, the Walker administration has tried every way they know how to block that coverage. Thankfully the courts are stepping in on the side of consumers.”
The Core plan provides basic health insurance to people without dependent children. It was established through a waiver Wisconsin received to federal Medicaid rules. The state stopped signing up people in late 2009, after demand for the program exceeded its budget as enrollment peaked to 65,000 people. The number of people in the Core plan has since dropped to less than 17,000, even though there’s enough space to insure up to 48,500 people under the agreement the state struck with the federal government.
Earlier this month, Conley put a hold on a new state law Walker quickly signed behind closed doors that would severely restrict access to legal and safe abortions in Wisconsin. Conley extended that hold a second time last week.
A copy of Conley’s decision on the Core lawsuit is attached.