Gov. Walker has a big decision to make and hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites’ health is on the line. The Affordable Care Act gives states several opportunities to expand health care coverage for uninsured citizens. One way is by providing federal funding for states to expand Medicaid, known as BadgerCare in Wisconsin, to cover currently ineligible low-wage workers at zero cost for the first three years. Gov. Walker’s decision whether or not to accept the federal funding for the BadgerCare expansion will affect more than 100,000 people in Wisconsin, nearly all of them unemployed or working part time.
Accepting the federal Medicaid money will also create jobs. According to an independent analysis by Jack Norman commissioned by Citizen Action of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, the $12 billion in federal money for BadgerCare will create an estimated 10,000 new jobs in the health care industry.
BadgerCare currently works well for low-income parents and caretakers of children, but most low-income people without children or whose children have grown fall through the cracks. There are over 146,000 Wisconsinites on a growing waiting list for health care.
A recent report by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that if Wisconsin takes the new Medicaid money, in 10 years an additional 211,000 Wisconsinites will be enrolled in BadgerCare. The federal government would pay the full cost of expanding the Medicaid program through 2016. After 2016, the federal government will gradually reduce its share of the cost to 90% in 2020 and thereafter.
People who lack access to stable and affordable health care coverage do not have a fair shot at the American dream because they face a constant threat of having their careers devastated by health disasters that turn into financial disasters. As union members, we need to stand up for our brothers and sisters who are unemployed or working part-time so that we can have a stronger, healthier, more stable middle class.More people with access to health care and more jobs -- this is a good deal and Gov. Walker should take the money.