During a budget briefing with Health Secretary Dennis Smith, Joint Finance Committee Co-chair Alberta Darling (R-River Falls) talks about the need for legislative oversight on Medicaid and stresses the importance of preserving SeniorCare.
Senator Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) suggests the secretary drive north of Highway 29 and talk with the people about their needs. “Medicare Part-Dumb was written by the prescription drug companies for the prescription drug companies … SeniorCare was written for the senior citizens by the people of Wisconsin.”
Smith says the agency faces a $500 million shortfall for the biennium, and they’re looking a ways to close that gap, including getting rid of duplication and layers of bureaucracy.
Jauch says he understands the need to manage costs, but at who’s expense? “The primary focus has been managing the dollars and cents of the program and forgetting about the hearts and souls and the needs of the people in this state.”
Representative Tamara Grigsby (D-Milwaukee) questions the proposed $1.9 million dollar cut to funding for family planning. Smith tells the legislative budget panel there are only a few places to find cost savings. “You look at eligibility; you look at the benefits themselves; and you have to look at the service delivery system.”
He says that includes residency requirement and cost-sharing.
The Health Department has an annual budget of about $8 billion. Medicaid programs comprise of about 86 percent of that agency’s budget.