Gov. Tony Evers’ proposed two-year state budget would pour $64 million more into Rock County for health care programs, according to data estimates released by the governor’s office Tuesday.
Evers’ 2019-21 budget would expand Medicaid to cover childless adults, parents and caretakers with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level, which would broaden coverage to about 82,000 more residents statewide.
In Rock County, Medicaid would be expanded to an estimated 2,792 residents for $23.3 million, and $1.7 million would be allotted to prevent childhood lead poising and support those afflicted, according to the estimates.
Medicaid would be expanded to an estimated 1,252 residents in Walworth County, which would receive an influx of $28 million for health-care funding, according to the estimates.
Evers’ office jointly released the county-specific data Tuesday with state Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm.
By expanding Medicaid as allowed under the federal Affordable Care Act, the state would receive $1.6 billion in new federal funding and save $324.5 million, according to the estimates. The state would reinvest those savings into new health-care initiatives.
Along with expanding Medicaid in Rock County, Evers’ proposal would invest $1.3 million to improve access to dental coverage by increasing reimbursement rates to dental providers. It also would boost funding for physicians by $2.1 million and hospitals by $10.1 million, according to the estimates.
More than $1 million would be used for long-term care programs and services in Walworth County, including family care and nursing homes.
Kate Luster, director of Rock County’s department of human services, lauded some of the proposals, including a $1.1 million increase in Rock County to grow crisis services and intervention.
Luster said boosting Medicaid coverage and federal funding for programs would allow the county to expand services without growing the county tax levy.
“Improved access to Medicaid generally will have a positive impact for our client base and for our budget,” Luster said.
Carlo Nevicosi, deputy director of Walworth County’s department of health and human services, echoed Luster, saying his department would see more revenue if Medicaid reimbursement rates rise. That could lead to less dependence on the tax levy and expanded mental health treatment, he said.
Nevicosi said his department supports Evers’ proposal to increase access to dementia care specialists by $188,000—which could lead to reduced long-term care costs—and permanently eliminate the waitlist for the Children’s Long-Term Support Waiver Program.
Nevicosi said he has concerns about Walworth County’s capacity to handle an influx of Medicaid-covered residents because it is designated as a shortage area for dental and mental health care providers and has fewer primary-care physicians per capita than the state average.
Evers’ proposals would have to survive the Republican-led Legislature to be enacted. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, has consistently said he will not support any kind of Medicaid expansion.
In April, state Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, whose district straddles Rock and Walworth counties, told The Gazette she is “skeptical” about expanding Medicaid but said the state should look at raising Medicaid reimbursement rates to providers.