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Dems, supporters push for Wisconsin to accept Federal Medicaid dollars


WAUSAU, WI (WSAU) -  Proponents of using federal dollars to expand Medicaid are pushing for Wisconsin lawmakers to change course after a recent study. Governor Scott Walker still wants to reject the additional federal funding to expand the state’s Badgercare program.

Jobs Now Wisconsin held a rally at the Marathon County Courthouse during the noon hour Monday.

State Rep Mandy Wright says taking the federal dollars for Wisconsin Medicaid expansion is the right thing to do. “The numbers are overwhelming on this. It’s actually a very easy decision. We’re talking about saving Wisconsin 170 million dollars. We’re talking about making sure 75 thousand people will have access to quality, affordable health care.”

Wright says Democrats and several other groups support the state taking the federal money, including some hospital groups. “The Wisconsin Hospitals Association, which includes Ministry and Aspirus, has been very forthcoming that they want to see us accept these funds because it will have serious repercussions. There’s actually concern that rural hospitals would need to close if we don’t follow through with accepting these funds.”

The rally was meant to influence Republican Senator Jerry Petrowski, who says he hasn’t made a final decision on this issue. “When the Governor proposed this, I think everybody believed that the exchanges would be up and running. The fact is U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana) said the other day that the implementation is not going like it’s supposed to, and it’s going to be a train wreck. I think everybody is taking a close look at this to see what are the options. That’s where I am.”

Petrowski has a meeting scheduled with Governor Walker’s staff this week to discuss this issue. The Senator says he normally likes to see federal dollars come into the state, but wants to examine this issue further before deciding.

Petrowski is not on the state’s Joint Finance Committee, but two Republicans that support taking the federal dollars are. Co-chair Alberta Darling and Luther Olsen.