Thursday, January 26th, 2012 - 17:38
Thursday, January 26, 2012 - 16:17
The state returns all federal funds provided to implement health reform
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports Governor Scott Walker returned $37.6 million awarded by the federal government for implementing a health information exchange.
Bowing to political pressure and to boost the state's Supreme Court case, the state will no longer move forward to conform with the Affordable Care Act deadlines that call for a working health exchange to be in place by January 1, 2014. Although the state had already spent some of the monies in preparing infrastructure, the Governor believes the state can best voice its opposition to the law by returning the remaining federal dollars.
In addition, the state will forgo a $10.5 million grant for improving its Medicaid computer systems that determine eligibility and enrollment. The governor's conservative allies touted the upgrades as a way to streamline the eligibility process by moving to a "real-time" check system, saving time and money for the state. Without the necessary IT upgrades, the state will continue to use a prospective, provisional eligibility process.
In 2011, Walker created a national firestorm by attempting to sharply curtail state workers' collective bargaining rights. In this case, if the Supreme Court upholds the law, federal authority will likely supersede the state's decision, triggering a federally imposed exchange.