Wisconsin’s poor-and-elderly might face even more cuts in their Medicaid health programs. That’s after the federal government said it would not give the state $45 million it overpaid Washington due to previous federal mistakes in carrying out disability programs.
US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said she did not have the legal authority to pay it back. But Wisconsin and other states were counting on that money to help eliminate big shortfalls in their Medicaid budgets. Sebelius says it’s possible that Congress could provide funding to fix the mistakes.
Robin Vos, co-chair of the legislature’s finance committee, says officials should ask the state’s congressional delegation to push for that money. Otherwise, the state might have to cut even more Medicaid benefits.
Over 200,000 low-income Wisconsinites already face a move to cheaper tax-funded health plans. And 53,000 more could lose their Medicaid altogether, if the state doesn’t get a federal coverage waiver. Those are a part of a half-billion-dollars in cuts the state says it needs to wipe out a half-billion-dollar deficit in its Medicaid programs. The new $45 million shortfall is on top of that. It was caused in part when the federal government enrolled people into the Supplemental Security Income program, when it should have enrolled them into special SSDI coverage for the disabled.
State officials said the mistake caused Wisconsin to pay for care that should have been covered by Washington. New York and Massachusetts went to court to try-and-recover similar funds – and judges threw out those cases.