Gov. Scott Walker introduced his fourth state budget as Governor on February 8, providing a $649 million increase to K-12 education aides and over $100 million in support to the UW System—two of the main focuses of a budget address delivered to a joint session of the Legislature. The Governor also made several changes to Wisconsin’s public welfare programs as part of his “Wisconsin Works for Everyone” initiative. This proposal includes requirements and funding for nearly 50,000 childless adults on the Medicaid program to receive employment and workforce support services.
In addition, the Governor fully funded Wisconsin’s Medicaid program by providing $279 million in state tax dollars to pay for the programs cost-to-continue—a measure used to determine the future cost of enrollment and utilization in Wisconsin’s low-income public health care coverage program. Within the Medicaid budget, Walker provided a 2 percent reimbursement increase in both years of the biennium for Wisconsin’s nursing homes at a cost of $51 million over the budget period.
Earlier in the day, the Group Insurance Board (GIB) moved forward with a proposal to change the state employee health insurance program to a self-funded model (see related story
on Group Insurance Board meeting). The GIB announced that the move was expected to reduce expenditures in the program by $40 million per year, with $60 million realized in the upcoming biennium. Walker announced he would use those funds to support public education in his proposed budget.
The budget bill now heads to the Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee for deliberation by the Senate and Assembly. WHA will work with members of the state Legislature to improve hospital reimbursement in the Medicaid program and increase investments in the health care workforce as the Legislature amends the Governor’s budget bill.