DHS Secretary Dennis Smith PHOTO: WRN

The state’s top health administrator wants feedback from the health care community on the future of Wisconsin’s Medicaid programs. Department of Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith asked attendees at the Covering Kids & Families conference in Madison to help his agency find millions in savings on Medicaid programs, as DHS prepares to request a waiver from the federal government. “Please go beyond simply saying ‘well I don’t like it.’ If five percent is too much, how much do you think is fair and equitable,” said Smith. “If you don’t like our changes, by all means offer your own.”

That five percent refers to the percentage of income BadgerCare families would be asked to pay for the state health insurance program. Smith said those in employee-funded health care programs are paying far more than BadgerCare participants – and that gap needs to be narrowed. “If you are paying that national average, that’s $344 a month. BadgerCare . . . you’re getting that coverage for a family of three for ten dollars,” Smith said.

Smith says historically Wisconsin has been quite generous with those on Medicaid programs, but that the state now must focus on how to maintain those programs with decreased revenues. “They were funded because there was another pot of money to use,” he said. “If you all tell me there’s another pot of money, tell me where it is.”

Smith did not provide an exact timeline for when the waiver application will be submitted or when a public hearing will be scheduled.

AUDIO: Bob Hague reports (2:15)

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