UPDATE: Local lawmaker reacts to rejection of Medicaid expansion - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Local lawmaker reacts to rejection of Medicaid expansion money

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Madison (WQOW) - In a straight party line vote, state Republicans reject billions in funds to expand Medicaid. Tuesday afternoon, the state's budget committee rejected accepting federal funds to expand Medicaid for the next six years.

"I cannot fathom why this decision was made in the way that it was," says Rep. Dana Wachs, (D-91st Assembly District).

Tempers flared in Madison, as the state's joint budget committee took up a vote on Medicaid expansion.

"I've been on the BadgerCare waiting list since last year. Say yes to BadgerCare," shouted one protester, as he was removed from the Joint Finance Committee Chambers.  

On Tuesday, the Joint Finance Committee rejected accepting $4 billion in federal funds to expand Medicaid through 2019.

"Governor Walker should be applauded for putting forth a healthcare reform that gives certainty to how we're going to deal with this issue," says Committee Chair Senator Alberta Darling (R-8th Senate District).  

Republicans say there's no certainty the federal money will actually be there for the next several years, and taxpayers would remain on the hook for those costs.

"In the second fiscal year of this coming biennium, our plan would spend $76 million, almost $77 million in federal money, and their plan would spend $444 million dollars," says Rep. Dean Knudson (R-30th Assembly District).

But Democrats say the governor's plan would knock tens of thousands of people off Medicaid, due to tightening of eligibility requirements for the program.

"I think it's irresponsible, I think it's nonsensical and I think it's not very nice, to be quite frank. To leave people, in the throws of living life with no alternative in health insurance, I don't get it," says Rep. Wachs.

But the real battle could just be beginning, as the Senate and Assembly must pass the budget proposal as well.

"There's a lot of very controversial policy decisions that are being put upon us in this budget without being pulled and voted on separately," says Rep. Wachs. "I think there's a lot of people on the other side of the aisle that are scratching their heads, too.

The Joint Finance Committee is also looking at the expansion of the state's voucher program lateTuesday night. The full legislature is expected to take up the budget proposal sometime this month.

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The Republican-controlled budget committee has rejected a federally funded expansion of Wisconsin's BadgerCare Medicaid program.
   The Joint Finance Committee voted 12-4 Tuesday along party lines to go along with Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposal and reject the expansion.
   Democrats argue rejecting the expansion doesn't make sense because it will cost the state about $150 million more to provide coverage to nearly 85,000 fewer people. Walker's plan lowers Medicaid eligibility to those earning 100 percent of poverty, not the current 200 percent.
   Republicans say Walker's plan is adding certainty and there's no guarantee the federal government would pay for expansion.
   They note that Walker's plan removes a cap on a program for childless adults, a move estimated to extend coverage to more than 82,000 people earning at or below poverty.

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