UPDATE: Walker says no to Medicaid expansion - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Walker says no to Medicaid expansion

Posted:
MADISON (WKOW) -- Governor Scott Walker announced he will not expand the state's Medicaid services, as the federal health care overhaul law allows.

Walker instead announced his own approach, which he says will cut the number of uninsured people in Wisconsin in half, from 14 percent to seven percent.

Gov. Walker has made room in his upcoming budget, spending an extra $644 million on the Badgercare and Medicaid programs. The plan would tighten the income threshold to qualify for Medicaid, eliminating about 5,000 people who currently qualify. It also lifts the cap on a program covering childless adults.  Walker says in the end, nearly 225,000 more people will be insured.

"To reduce the number of people uninsured, and reduce the number of people with longstanding dependence on the government," says Walker. "[Medicaid] is for people who are poor, not to be a permanent way of life but to be a temporary hand up, not a permanent handout."

Hospitals and many medical and health advocacy groups had urged Walker to accept the federal money to pay for the expansion of services.

Michael Jacob, with Covering Kids & Families (CKF), says many changes are coming as the federal Affordable Care Act takes effect and people can begin to get involved in healthcare exchange programs. CKF is a non-partisan group that works to help people better understand public health insurance programs.

Jacob says some people will end up with better health coverage and some won't really see much of a change. He says the people most affected are adults who don't have children.

"These are the folks who typically do not have access to affordable coverage as an individual, and [Wednesday's] announcement should help a lot of those folks have individual coverage through Medicaid, Badgercare," says Jacob.

The proposed changes would take effect when the federal health insurance exchanges open. Jacob says we'll begin to learn more about those programs sometime in the summer, and enrollment is expected to begin in fall.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Gov. Scott Walker is set to announce whether Wisconsin will expand Medicaid under the federal health care overhaul, a day after signaling he may strike a middle path.

Six Republican governors have decided to accept billions of dollars from the U.S. government to expand Medicaid as part of the federal health care overhaul.

The governor will make his official announcement Wednesday afternoon. Walker could accept the federal money or stick with 11 other Republican governors who have rejected the expansion.

On Tuesday Gov. Walker hinted at middle ground, not fully embracing the provision of the law but agreeing to expand the system under certain conditions.

The governor will make his announcement at Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce Business Day at the Monona Terrace at 1:50 p.m. Shortly after, Walker is also expected to discuss details of his state budget. In one week, the Governor's Office will release the entire two-year budget.

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