Recent Changes in Health Policy for Low-Income People in Wisconsin

Research Report

Recent Changes in Health Policy for Low-Income People in Wisconsin

Abstract

Although health care was not a top priority for Wisconsin, the state implemented some major health care initiatives. BadgerCare, the state's publicly-subsidized health program for low-income families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid, is often touted as a model for other states.
Wisconsin also has been a national leader in long-term care, especially in the development of flexible home and community-based services. The latest major initiative was Family Care, which consolidates funding for long-term care through use of managed care organizations. Wisconsin has new political leadership and is facing a very different fiscal environment than it had during the late 1990s. The economic slowdown, which deepened in the aftermath of September 11, exacerbated a large budget deficit. The state
addressed this gap in 2001 by creative repackaging of tobacco settlement funds and vastly expanding its Medicaid intergovernmental transfer program. This generated federal funds at no cost to the state. Despite the financial pressures, Medicaid and other health programs were cut only slightly in 2001 and new funds were found to create a major new prescription drug assistance program for senior citizens.

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