News

Sen. Darling, Rep. Vos: Medicaid crisis highlights need for reform

12/17/2009

Contact: Sen. Alberta Darling 608-266-5830 Rep. Robin Vos 608-266-9171

Madison…The failure of the Doyle administration to rein in costs in the state’s Medicaid program is creating a fiscal crisis for Wisconsin residents both as taxpayers and health care consumers, say Republican members of the Legislature’s budget committee.

The Joint Committee on Finance was briefed on a plan by the Doyle administration’s Department of Health Services (DHS) to reduce its Medicaid budget by $600 million, one-third of which is achieved as one-time savings or delayed payments pushed off to the next budget cycle. In addition, it was revealed earlier this week that cost overruns in the current budget could reach $150 million. The DHS plan does not address that budget hole.

“Taxpayers do not have the means to pay hundreds of millions of new dollars year after year for bigger government programs,” said Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills). “What we need from the Doyle Administration is a vision to reform Medicaid in a way that reins in cost without crippling providers and limiting access for enrollees. Instead, they‘ve put Wisconsin in a downward spiral of higher taxes, fewer jobs, higher demand and expanded eligibility for programs, and costs that exceed tax revenue.”

Proposed cuts to health care providers not only limit their ability to see Medicaid patients, but force a cost shift to private health insurance plans that will raise rates for consumers.

“The fiscal mismanagement of the Medicaid program is a double-edged sword for taxpayers,” said Rep. Robin Vos (R-Racine). “At the same time taxpayers are being made to fund huge expansions to these government programs, the reimbursement cuts to providers will force premium increases for those employers, employees and other families with private health care coverage.”

The federal stimulus bill provided one-time funding of $1.2 billion for Wisconsin’s Medicaid program. While there are proposed bills in Congress to extend assistance to states through June 2011, it is not known whether those will pass. The 2011-13 state budget may need to replace that entire $1.2 billion.