Walker's bill affects Medicaid, family planning clinics - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Walker's bill affects Medicaid, family planning clinics

 By Anna Carrera - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

WAUSAU (WAOW) -- Collective bargaining and workers rights have been two major focuses of Walker's bill, but some think the issue with Medicaid might be the bigger battle, affecting hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites.

Under Governor Walker's bill, he and the members of the Department of Health Services would be allowed to review, or possibly modify, state medical assistance programs, which include Medicaid.

Hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites qualify for Medicaid and some of them go to family planning clinics. But under Governor Walker's proposed budget repair bill, some worry that the current rules for Medicaid procedures could go out the window.

"It's troubling constitutionally," said Family Planning Health Services Executive Director Lon Newman. "It's troubling in terms of legislative responsibility. And it's troubling in terms of our program and access to healthcare."

Representatives with the family planning clinic said half of Wisconsin births are paid for by Medicaid. But some doctors said they understand budgets need to be balanced. With the state footing the bill for so many different programs, they said it's important to take a closer look at what taxpayers are funding.

"When we're looking at budget cuts and areas where we need to change and be more fiscally responsible, I think it's a good time to reevaluate these programs and see what's working and what's not working," said Dr. Kim Couri-Connolly, who works as a family practitioner.

With so much needing to be done at the state level, there's a lot on the line and a lot of questions still unanswered.

"None of us really know what the Medicaid cuts are going to be," said Couri-Connolly. "But certainly I think now is a good time to reevaluate."

Some purposes the bill states for allowing these sweeping changes is increasing the quality and efficiency of state medical programs. The full extent of the powers the committee would have are still unknown.

Online Reporter: Anna Carrera

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