Democrats are keeping the pressure on Republican Gov. Scott Walker to expand Medicaid
eligibility with a report that shows the move would save the state hundreds of millions of dollars over the next three years.
Under the new federal healthcare law
, the federal government would pay the full cost through 2016 of expanding Medicaid to all adults earning 138% of the federal poverty level or less. Federal coverage would decrease annually after that before settling at 90% in 2020.
The influx of federal aid would have saved Wisconsin $206 million in the current two-year budget if it had expanded Medicaid, the nonpartisan Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau said in a memo prepared at the request of state Sen. Jennifer Shilling, a Democrat. If Walker agrees to the expansion in the 2015-17 state budget, the move would save the state between $261 million and $315 million depending on enrollment, according to the report.
Walker has defended his decision not to support full Medicaid expansion, saying he doubts the federal government would honor its commitment to cover the costs. The governor's spokeswoman, Laurel Patrick, said in an e-mail that if anyone thinks the debt-saddled federal government won't renege on its promises, “They are not living in reality.” —Associated Press