By: Brian Sikma
It may not have been intentional, but the liberal organizations and left-wing lawmakers who attacked Governor Scott Walker’s entitlement reform plan unveiled last week ended up blasting ObamaCare as well. Walker has made it clear that the state will not accept new federal funds to expand Medicaid, known as BadgerCare in Wisconsin. The expansion funds were made available through the Affordable Care Act – ObamaCare – but those funds do not cover the full cost of the expansion. State taxpayers would have been forced to pay up to $725 million, according to one study, to support the expansion.
Walker’s reform plan calls for some existing BadgerCare recipients above the federal poverty line to move off the program and onto the ObamaCare exchange system. The transfer opens up more opportunity for people below the federal poverty level to obtain healthcare services through BadgerCare. Low income individuals in the ObamaCare-created exchange will receive a federal subsidy to help them pay for the health insurance they purchase.
The subsidy and exchange system were designed in ObamaCare to help lower income individuals receive the quality of healthcare that policy architects deemed acceptable for them.
“Im not sure what Gov. Walker is trying to prove here. We know this federal money would have helped to create jobs, stimulate our state economy and give people the security of knowing they have health care coverage,” criticized state Senator Jon Erpenbach (D).
State Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa (D) was very strident in her criticism. She said the governor “blocked Wisconsinites access to affordable health care.” Walker’s plan, Zamarripa charged, left Wisconsin citizens “without affordable options for health care coverage.”
Another state representative, Katrina Shankland (D), accused Walker of “extremism.”
Scot Ross, the executive director of One Wisconsin Now who left his job in the state capitol under the cloud of an ethics scandal, said Walker was working “to slash state health care help for tens of thousands of working Wisconsinites.”
What these liberals are missing is that Walker is in fact giving ObamaCare a chance to live up to its much-advertised promise of bringing health insurance coverage to low income and middle class Americans. Individuals moved off of Medicaid/BadgerCare are now going to be able to participate in the federally run health insurance exchange that will be coming to Wisconsin.
Walker last year refused to set up a state-based exchange because taxpayers would be left with all of the cost and none of the flexibility or management responsibilities needed to make it work for Wisconsin’s needs.
Ben Domenech, a policy expert who runs The Heartland Institute’s healthcare blog, told Media Trackers that the Left’s disagreement with Walker’s plan was telling.
“You’d think they’d be happy that more people are getting coverage, no matter how they get it! But this is a tacit admission that the real aim of the Medicaid expansion was to dramatically increase the entitlement state, shifting the cost burden over time to the states. Other states should learn from Wisconsin’s lesson and see the Medicaid expansion for what it is: a lure designed to make the state expand their programs, then leave them holding the bag.”
Liberals are eager to attack Walker for almost any reason. But this time around their aggressiveness ironically found them blasting ObamaCare, a landmark expansion of government that, as time goes by, seems to not be living up to the promises of its architects.