State News

Walker ‘hopeful’ about future Medicaid reforms

Gov. Scott Walker, who has not said whether he supports the Republicans health care overhaul bill, said Wednesday that future Medicaid reforms are promising.

Image By: Katie Scheidt

Gov. Scott Walker expressed support of the federal government’s Medicaid reforms Wednesday in response to a letter that was sent to all governors, which aimed to ensure the program will be enhanced and meet each state’s unique needs.

The letter was co-authored by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and addressed some of Medicaid's current problems. The GOP is contemplating a Medicaid reform bill that would lower the amount of federal funding states receive to pay for the program, which some Republican governors have opposed.

Walker, however, said he is hopeful about the direction Medicaid is heading.

“Meaningful reforms to Medicaid, so that members and taxpayers get better outcomes, can best be done by the states. A one-size-fits-all approach to Medicaid does not work,” Walker said in a statement. “Wisconsin has shown we can expand coverage without having to buy into the failure that Obamacare has become, and if given flexibility, we believe states can be more effective and accountable.”

The letter sent by Price promised more collaboration between states and the federal government and shifted more control to states to manage health issues. Some of those areas of control suggested are increasing employment and community engagement, aligning Medicaid and private insurance policies for “non-disabled” adults and addressing the opioid epidemic.

“Today, we commit to ushering in a new era for the federal and state Medicaid partnership where states have more freedom to design programs that meet the spectrum of diverse needs of their Medicaid population,” the letter stated.

Walker has not openly supported the Republican federal health care replacement plan but has said the bill will look different soon. Walker met with other Republican governors Tuesday to discuss the replacement plan.

Under the replacement plan, 14 million people across the country would lose their health care insurance in 2018, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Unlike other states that took federal money to fund a Medicaid expansion under former President Barack Obama, Wisconsin refused to take the money. Wisconsin, consequently, likely won’t be as hurt by the replacement plan.

“Working with this administration, I am hopeful we can improve an already strong Medicaid program here in Wisconsin,” Walker said in a statement. 

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