County Board to vote on putting Medicaid referendum on ballot

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JANESVILLE - The Rock County Board will decide at its Aug. 8 meeting if a non-binding advisory referendum should be placed on the Spring 2020 election ballot asking county voters if the state should accept federal Medicaid funding as offered under the Affordable Care Act.

The board voted 12-11 to table the initial proposal at its July 11 meeting citing a need for more information on the number of people in Wisconsin who would be insured through the Medicaid expansion.

The resolution was drafted by District 27 Board Member Kathy Schulz, who amended the referendum question at the July 11 meeting to reflect a number of estimated insured state residents to be 76,000 and not 82,000, as previously included in the original resolution.

The new referendum question reads, "Should the State of Wisconsin accept Affordable Care Act Federal Medicaid funds earmarked to expand health insurance coverage to 76,000 additional Wisconsin residents resulting in the state saving $279.4 million?"

In an interview with the Beloit Daily News, Schulz said she felt the GOP-controlled Legislature is ignoring a key issue that state voters support.

"If people have to choose between medical care and work, they are not promoting work," Schulz said. "People need adequate access to health care and it would clearly advantage our counties and our state."

A Medicaid expansion plan was not passed as part of the state 2019-21 budget process, with Gov. Tony Evers proposing the deal that was shot down by GOP lawmakers.

The rate of uninsured people in Wisconsin was around 9% between 2008 and 2013. After BadgerCare was expanded in 2014, that rate was reduced to about 5.7%, but there still are about 323,000 uninsured residents in Wisconsin according to Kids Forward, a family advocacy agency.

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