There's just one problem. The way that the governor and legislators are going about it will cost Wisconsin's taxpayers and employers a bundle. That's because Walker proposed and Joint Finance picked 100% of the poverty line — rather than 133% of the poverty line — as the border between where Medicaid ends and the exchange begins.
Because of this simple policy error, a complex set of federal rules (but known to both Walker and legislators) will result in more than 84,000 Wisconsinites losing coverage under BadgerCare and relying instead on Obamacare's more complicated exchange. To make things worse, the decision by Walker and the budget writers to expand Medicaid to 100% of the poverty (instead of 133%) will raise state budget costs — and thus increase the burden on Wisconsin taxpayers — by $119 million over the next two years.read more »
More than one-third of Americans who use shelters annually are parents and their children. In 2011, that added up to more than 500,000 people. According to Joe Volk, CEO of Community Advocates in Milwaukee, prevalent family homelessness is no accident.
“In 2000, we as a nation—and the Department of Housing and Urban Development—made the terrible decision to abandon homeless children and their families,” said Volk, speaking at a Congressional briefing on The American Almanac of Family Homelessness, authored by the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness. “Families for a decade have been ignored.”read more »
Walter Laux is the director of Behavioral Health Services for Community Advocates. The Milwaukee-based group helps meet the basic needs of those who are struggling. He spoke with Lake Effect’s Amy Kiley about the governor’s plan for mental health funding – and barriers to care. One issue is the fact that many mentally ill people end up incarcerated.read more »
There are times when the clouds part, the path becomes clear and the solutions to vexing social problems become focused, only waiting for bold and decisive leadership to grab the moment. The issue at stake is comprehensive reform of Milwaukee County's mental health system, as recommended by the Mental Health Redesign Task Force and proposed by County Executive Chris Abele. Now is the time to implement a new vision for mental health services in Milwaukee County.read more »
Funding for a statewide transitional jobs program will sunset at the end of June, but local advocates and state officials would like to continue a version of the program, at least in Milwaukee County. [The Transitional Jobs Demonstration Project] has helped the chronically unemployed and those with criminal records earn jobs, local officials said. The program funds participants’ pay, at minimum wage, for up to six months. It allows employers to test out a worker at virtually no risk or expense, while giving disconnected and marginalized workers a pathway to employment, said Conor Williams, secretary of the Milwaukee Transitional Jobs Collaborative.read more »
Gov. Scott Walker and the state Legislature must soon make a fundamental decision about the future of BadgerCare, Wisconsin’s health insurance program for the working poor. They have two simple choices — go through Door A and fill the gaps in BadgerCare eligibility, or enter Door B and allow the gaps in BadgerCare to remain. Each choice will lead to sharply different consequences for the health of Wisconsin’s citizens and the taxes we pay.read more »
A recent study by Community Advocates Public Policy Institute concluded failure to extend Medicaid to Wisconsin’s low-income citizens could cost state taxpayers millions of dollars and increase the tax burden on employers who don’t provide health insurance to their workers. David Riemer, a senior fellow with the group, and Michael Bare, a research and program coordinator, urged Walker in a letter to include an increase to BadgerCare to avoid subjecting the state’s employers to a tax hike.read more »
[I]f just 20,000 people in that income bracket who were employed bought health insurance with the federal subsidies, Riemer said, Wisconsin employers would pay $60 million in penalties. That's a cost they wouldn't incur if Walker expands the Medicaid program. Which option the governor decides on is expected to be in his budget proposal next month.read more »