Scott Walker Policy Chops Back in Spotlight as Medicaid Dominates
Among Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s most attractive attributes: his deep understanding of policy detail — especially as it relates to the relationship between the federal and state governments.
With “Repeal and Replace” of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) now taking up most of the day-to-day legislative oxygen — and causing headaches due to the complexity of unwinding the law — Walker once again finds himself in the national spotlight.
Through his own successful state Medicaid reform known as BadgerCare — and who also opted against Medicaid expansion — he is a preeminent national Medicaid reform leader.
Besides the fact he now chairs the Republican Governors’ Association (RGA), it’s no surprise the President, GOP congressional leaders and other state executives are seeking his insights on the messy matter of what to do about the 31 states opting to expand Medicaid under the ACA framework.
Walker recently told National Review, “I think you can replace and reform in a way that gives people the same or better. I’m not talking about having the same subsidy from the government. Because of the bifurcated Supreme Court decision, we [in Wisconsin] were able to determine our destiny on Medicaid. We didn’t take the expansion, and we’re not a state exchange state, but for the first time ever, we covered everyone in poverty with Medicaid. All those above [the poverty level], we transitioned them to the marketplace. Somebody conceivably earning just above poverty [level], working to tap into a reasonably-costing plan by virtue of the subsidies, now under the market-driven approach, we [can] do the same with a tax credit or something very similar to the tax credit.”
During his 2015 presidential campaign, the Wisconsin Governor put forward similar policy language, along with a Walker-esque conservative coda, in remarks surrounding the release of his “Day One Patient Freedom Plan”:
“For the first time in our state’s history, every single one of our less fortunate citizens have access to health care coverage through BadgerCare, our state’s Medicaid plan. In fact, every single person in Wisconsin has access to some type of affordable care — according to the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation — whether it is from BadgerCare, a private insurance plan through an employer, or the federal health care exchange.
“For Wisconsin, I made the right decision to reject Medicaid expansion under Obamacare – and to reject the so-called “free federal money”. There is no “free federal money” – it all comes from you, the taxpayer. Instead, we focused on making our current program better, while working to move more Wisconsinites to private coverage.”
As the President is discovering: policy matters and details matter. So do results.
Scott Walker, through his demonstrated mastery of policy detail, will be integral to shaping a “Repeal and Replace” plan that can actually earn the support of federal and state lawmakers.