U.S. House & Senate Democrats Offer Medicaid Expansion Proposals

July 15, 2021

As U.S. Senate Democrats look to run another budget reconciliation package that could authorize up to another $3.5 trillion in new spending, talk has again turned to the issue of Medicaid expansion.

Wisconsin is one of twelve states that has chosen not to accept Medicaid expansion at the state level. However, it continues to be in a unique position as the only such state not to face a coverage gap and actually has a lower uninsured rate than all but seven states, and even has a lower uninsured rate than 31 of the 38 states that took the expansion.

Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is among those spearheading an effort to bring Medicaid expansion to states that have not yet accepted it. Earlier this week, she introduced legislation that would further enhance the amount of Federal Medicaid dollars states like Wisconsin would receive for expanding Medicaid. However, should a state still chose not to do so, her legislation would require the federal government to administer an insurance plan that mimics Medicaid in providing the same benefits at no cost to persons between 100% and 138% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).

In addition to Senator Baldwin's legislation, Lloyd Dogget, Chair of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, introduced legislation that would again give governments 100% federal funding for the first three years they expand Medicaid with a gradual reduction to 90% by the seventh year. His legislation would also allow local governments to apply to create regional expansion projects. Rumors have also swirled about other ideas that would create incentives or penalties to get the 12 remaining states to expand Medicaid.

WHA is working very closely with the Wisconsin's Congressional Delegation and the Evers administration to guard against Wisconsin getting swept up in a one-size-fits all policy that could unfairly penalize our state's unique approach.

Earlier this spring, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released estimates suggesting about 80,000 Wisconsinites under 100% FPL who are currently eligible for Medicaid remain uninsured. Additionally, about 25,000 Wisconsinites between 100% FPL and 138% FPL who are currently eligible for a no-cost-premium exchange plan remain uninsured. These numbers suggest it would be hard to estimate to what extent these policy proposals being debated would increase health insurance coverage in Wisconsin.

Please contact WHA's VP Federal & State Relations, Jon Hoelter, with questions.

This story originally appeared in the July 15, 2021 edition of WHA Newsletter