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Gov. Scott Walker defends Medicaid plan


MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Governor Scott Walker says he knows he’ll be accused of not caring about people in his Medicaid reform strategy under the Obama health reform law.

But Walker told the state’s largest business group Wednesday that it’s just the opposite. He said he wants to empower people to control their own destiny, and make fewer people dependent on the government.

The Republican Walker confirmed that his budget would reduce income limits for Badger Care and other Medicaid programs to exclude those above the poverty line. It would remove limits on childless adults in Badger Care, and it would move those not in poverty to the federal government’s insurance exchanges.

State Health Secretary Dennis Smith clarified late Wednesday that the changes would not affect the elderly and disabled in Medicaid programs – and it would only affect income-based recipients.

He said 87,000 people would be dropped from Medicaid, but 82,000 others would get in for the first time – so the net drop would be 5,000.

Still, Smith said the state would have to spend an extra $650 million on Medicaid in the next two years due to rising costs.

Walker rejected a full expansion of Medicaid – one of the options in the Obama health package – and he turned down millions in federal money to pay for it.

Democrats blasted the move, and some said Walker was putting politics before people. But Senate GOP finance chair Alberta Darling says the federal money could be taken away down the line.