Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's administration has received preliminary approval from the federal government for some Medicaid cuts it sought to balance a budget shortfall, but a final determination won't come until later, raising the possibility 53,000 people may lose coverage in the meantime.
Wis. governor receives initial OK on Medicaid cuts
Walker's Department of Health Services had said if all the cuts weren't approved by Dec. 31, it would be forced to kick 53,000 people off of BadgerCare Plus next year by tightening income eligibility. In Friday's letter, the director of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Walker's deadline was unlikely to be met.
Noting that the changes sought would be dramatic for those affected, CMS Director Cindy Mann said "these proposals require time for review and careful consideration."
Mann said the federal government needed more time to work together with the state to more precisely describe the proposals, analyze how they align or differ with the law, and consider the impact of those now covered by Medicaid programs.
Wisconsin DHS Secretary Dennis Smith is urging quick action by the federal government on the state's proposal. In a letter Friday to acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, Smith called the federal preliminary approval on some Medicaid cuts "a good start" but added that "they fall far short of our request."
"The choice is clear — with your approval of the demonstration project, over 60,000 Wisconsinites will still have access to affordable insurance. But without federal approval, thousands of other low-income individuals will lose coverage," Smith wrote.
U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), said it was unreasonable to seek a decision from the federal government in less than a month. The state submitted the proposal on Nov. 10 after it won approval from the Legislature's Republican-controlled budget committee. Baldwin, who is running for the U.S. Senate, urged Walker to seek alternatives.
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