Health and Science
Fri December 14, 2012
Wisconsin Health Secretary Says Health Reform Comes With High Costs, Uncertainty
Wisconsin's Health Services Secretary has testified that the new federal health care law will cost the state money but that there's a lot of uncertainty surrounding how new program will work.
Secretary Dennis Smith told a congressional submittee Thursday that expanding Medicaid will cost the state because the federal government isn't going to pay the full cost of the 113,000 people who are eligible but aren't enrolled. He says in addition to the new cost of care for those people, the added administrative costs to enroll them would be substantial. Smith says it's also going to cost money to train eligibility workers, and it's not clear whether the state or the federal government will pay for that process, "The idea that you are going to train a whole set of eligibility workers who are going to know Wisconsin's Medicaid eligibility? It's a little hard to accept that giving the short period of time, again we're 10 months away."
Even though Smith says the programs will drive up costs in Wisconsin, he concedes the state has yet to run the numbers. Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin says expansion would save the state nearly $500,000 according to an estimate by the Keiser Family Health Foundation. She says financial uncertainty isn't the only thing to be concerned about, “Over 200,000 Wisconsinites could gain Medicaid coverage through the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion. And if it is uncertainty that we are concerned about, surely those 200,000 people in Wisconsin deserve the certainty that affordable and quality care will be there for them.”
Secretary Smith says Gov. Walker will announce whether or not he will expand the state’s Medicaid program when he releases his budget in February.