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UPDATE: Town Hall Meeting On Medicaid Savings Initiatives

UPDATED Wednesday, October 19, 2011 --- 3:10 p.m.

Public speaks out against Medicaid cuts

By SCOTT BAUER
Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A plan to cut about half a billion dollars from the state's Medicaid costs put forward by Gov. Scott Walker's administration is drawing an overwhelmingly negative response at the first of two public hearings.

Advocates for the poor, elderly and others covered by a host of Medicaid programs spoke out Wednesday against the proposal that would lead to increased premiums and the shifting of hundreds of thousands of people into less costly state or private plans.

Karen Foxgrover, a volunteer advocate for people with disabilities, called the proposed cuts scary even though she understands why they are necessary.

The Department of Health Services says the changes are needed given the rising cost, loss of federal money and exploding enrollment growth in various Medicaid programs.

Copyright 2011. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Wednesday, October 19, 2011 --- 5:50 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Opponents of the plan by Gov. Scott Walker's administration to cut more than half a billion dollars from Medicaid will get a chance to speak out at a public hearing Wednesday.

The state Department of Health Services is holding the hearing to gather input on its plan. A second hearing is planned for Friday in Milwaukee.

Today's hearing:
Goodman Community Center
149 Waubesa Street
Madison, WI 53704
Evjue Community Room D

The cuts would tighten eligibility requirements, increase premiums and could result in tens of thousands of people losing their coverage.

The Save BadgerCare Coalition, which includes advocates for public health, the aging community, children and others, plans to be at the hearing to voice opposition to the proposal.

State officials say changes must be made because of increasing costs and demand.

Copyright 2011. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Sunday, October 16, 2011 --- 10:25 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The state Department of Health Services will hold a town hall meeting in Madison about proposed changes to Medicaid.

Secretary Dennis Smith and Deputy Secretary Kitty Rhoades want to collect input from consumers, community partners and providers on Medicaid.

State health officials have recently released a series of proposals designed to generate $554.4 million in Medicaid savings. The centerpiece calls for winning a federal waiver that would allow the state to stiffen eligibility requirements for people with some employer-based insurance and force young people to join their parents' insurance.

In a statement, Rhoades says they want to hear from the public before they formally submit the proposal to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or Wisconsin's legislators.

The meeting is Wednesday.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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Posted Friday, October 14, 2011 --- 11:50 a.m.

Press Release:

MADISON—Department of Health Services Secretary Dennis G. Smith and Deputy Secretary Kitty Rhoades will hold a Town Hall meeting in Madison to collect input from consumers, community partners, and providers on Medicaid efficiencies and cost-savings initiatives recently released by the Department.

The mission and cost of Medicaid in Wisconsin have expanded dramatically over the years. One out of every five citizens is now served in a Medicaid program (traditional Medicaid, BadgerCare Plus, SeniorCare and Family Care). Medicaid pays for 45 percent of all births in the state, and Medicaid recipients occupy roughly 60 percent of nursing home beds.

State funding for Medicaid had to be significantly increased above the 2009-2011 budget, primarily for two reasons – federal matching funds decreased by $1.33 billion and previous budget estimates were based on a projected decline in enrollment. But even after an infusion of $1.2 billion of additional state funding for the current budget cycle, the Department was tasked with finding savings to keep the Medicaid program in balance with the state budget.

“To fulfill our responsibilities to those who rely on our programs and the taxpayers who provide the funding, and ensuring a balanced state budget over the biennium, we had numerous discussions with consumers, providers and advocates to generate the commonsense changes to Medicaid that we have proposed,” said Secretary Smith. “Now that the public has had the opportunity to look at these initiatives we are very much interested in obtaining feedback.”

“We believe that our proposals are fair, focused, and will make the Medicaid program sustainable in Wisconsin,” said Deputy Secretary Rhoades. “We want to hear from the public prior to submitting anything formally to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or Wisconsin’s Joint Committee on Finance.”

Individuals who are interested in speaking will have up to three minutes to share their comments at this forum. Those who would like to share their ideas and do not wish to speak are encouraged to submit their written feedback at the meeting. Those unable to attend the town hall meeting can provide comments on the DHS website at www.dhs.wisconsin.gov.

** People needing special accommodations to attend or participate in the meeting should notify the Department of Health Services at 608-266-9622 (TTY 888-701-1250) on or before October 18, 2011.

WHEN:
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
1:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M

WHERE:
Goodman Community Center
149 Waubesa Street
Madison, WI 53704
Evjue Community Room D


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