According to a new study, Wisconsin will lose $1.8 billion in 2022 by rejecting federal funds to pay for expansion of its Medicaid program.
While that pales in comparison to the $9.2 billion Texas will lose as a consequence of rejecting federally funded Medicaid expansion, or the $5 billion forgone by Florida, it roughly equals the amount the state will pay that year in incentives to attract private businesses to the state.
And the kicker: Wisconsin residents will still pay federal taxes that go to fund Medicaid expansion in other states.
"Because the federal share of the Medicaid expansion is so much greater than the state share, taxpayers in non-participating states will nonetheless bear a significant share of the overall cost of the expansion through federal tax payments — and not enjoy any of the benefits," says the research paper from The Commonwealth Fund, a group that advocates for healthcare system improvements.
The report was written by Sherry Glied, a former assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the Obama administration and current dean of the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University, and Stephanie Ma, a research scientist at the Wagner School.
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In a decision last year, the U.S. Supreme Court gave states the option of whether or not to participate in the Medicaid expansion, part of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled state Legislature turned away the Medicaid dollars because, they said, it put Wisconsin taxpayers on the hook if the federal government didn't hold up its end of the bargain. According to the report, the Medicaid expansion is initially funded completely by the federal government, but after 2020 sates will have to pay 10 percent of the cost.
The report is critical of the 20 states that have rejected expansion.
"States’ decisions whether or not to expand Medicaid will have profound effects on their residents," the report says, citing the loss of the federal funds, continued costs to hospitals of uncompensated health care and loss of jobs that would be generated by the money.
Walker's rejection of the federal Medicaid money is part of a pattern that began with his rejection of $800 million in high-speed passenger rail money that would have paid for a line between Madison and Milwaukee, part of a vast Midwest system that would have eventually linked Madison with Chicago and the Twin Cities.
As the report points out, however, other federal funds would continue to flow into the state, including $967 million in transportation funds and nearly $11 billion in federal defense contracts.