Medicaid Expansion Bill Circulating

This week, Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) and Rep. Daniel Riemer (D-Milwaukee) circulated legislation (LRB 2962) to expand the eligibility level for the state Medicaid program to up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line.

Under the Affordable Care Act, states which expand Medicaid receive enhanced federal funding. The bill requires the Department of Health Services (DHS) to use any increased federal funding from expansion to improve health care access, affordability, and quality. According to the cosponsorship memo, Wisconsin is one of 14 states which have chosen not to expand Medicaid.

The bill would also repeal the current Badger Care Childless Adults Demonstration Project waiver, which requires DHS to charge premiums, require health risk assessments, require drug testing, limit eligibility to 48 months, and implement work requirements for enrollees.

Gov. Tony Evers announced his support for the legislation on Monday. The governor had proposed Medicaid expansion and repeal of the childless adults waiver in his 2019-21 state budget, but the GOP-controlled Joint Committee on Finance removed those provisions, and they were not included in the final budget.  Legislative Republicans have argued a Medicaid expansion is not needed in Wisconsin, noting in Wisconsin there’s no coverage gap because Medicaid covers people up to the federal poverty level and subsidized insurance on the Exchange is available for those above the poverty level.

Gov. Evers also announced last week that rates on Wisconsin’s individual health insurance market will be 3.2 percent lower in 2020. The governor’s statement attributed the decrease partially to the Wisconsin Healthcare Stability Plan, the state’s reinsurance program.