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Legislature compounds bad Medicaid move (editorial)

7:11 AM, Jun. 19, 2013  |  Comments
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Here's a prime example of how the state Legislature makes government more convoluted - and, in this case, spends more money, too.

Hospital officials from around the state have expressed their concerns about Gov. Scott Walker's plan, which is included in the 2013-15 budget bill, to reject the full expansion of Medicaid offered by the federal government. They're worried that low-income people who will be kicked off the state's BadgerCare program will fall through the cracks in the plan or will be unable to afford health insurance on the federal government's upcoming exchanges, even with a subsidy.

In either case, they'll end up in the hospitals' emergency rooms, unable to pay for care. That's a problem for the hospitals.

So, the Joint Finance Committee came up with a solution: Having the state pay the hospitals up to $73.5 million over the next two fiscal years to make up for uncompensated care.

That might work for the hospitals and, more important to Walker and the Legislature, might keep them quiet about the new Medicaid changes. But for the state budget, which is financed by our taxes? Not so much.

It's taking a situation in which more hundreds of millions in tax dollars will be spent on providing care for fewer people - in Walker's plan vs. the full Medicaid expansion - and compounding that problem by spending even more money.

Wouldn't it be better for both the state and its residents if more people actually had health insurance?

Leave it to the Legislature to take a bad decision and somehow find a way to make it worse.

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