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Gov. Walker's Medicaid approach to be discussed by Joint Finance Committee

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MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsin’s so-called “hybrid” approach to Medicaid will be examined Wednesday, when lawmakers continue their review of the next state budget.

Health Services Secretary Kitty Rhoades will answer questions and respond to criticisms of the plan, when she appears before the Joint Finance Committee.

GOP Governor Scott Walker rejected millions in federal funds to expand programs like BadgerCare under the Obama health reform law. Instead, Walker plans to have the state revamp Medicaid on its own, by expanding the numbers of BadgerCare recipients who are at-or-below the poverty level.

Recipients above the poverty line would buy discounted insurance from the new federal exchanges that begin in 2014.

Tuesday, we learned that larger employers would pay extra if their workers use the exchanges to buy their coverage. The Jackson-Hewitt Tax Service estimates that Wisconsin firms will pay an extra $24 to $36 million a year.

Critics say the cost estimate is too low. A health agency spokeswoman responded by saying the governor’s plan would reduce the number of uninsured Wisconsinites in half, and reduce dependence on the government.

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