National Groups Express Concerns About Wisconsin’s Waiver

By Wesley Prater

Many thanks to the organizations that joined us in submitting a letter to federal officials in opposition of Wisconsin’s request to waive maintenance of effort provisions.  These provisions are so valuable to families because they preserve stability in states’ Medicaid and CHIP programs.  Groups such as the AARP, American Heart Association, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Families USA, First Focus, and the March of Dimes signed on to voice their concerns on this issue.

I won’t go into too much detail about the waiver proposal because our friend, Jon Peacock, from the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families blogged about the specifics of the waiver proposal, while cleverly comparing it to a triple feature horror film.  Some of the proposals included:

* Increasing premiums to five percent of family income for families with incomes above 150% of the FPL;

* Excluding eligibility for adults ages 19 to 26 above 100% of FPL if they could be covered on a parent’s employer sponsored plan; and

* Excluding adults from Medicaid with incomes above 100% of the FPL and children with family income above 133% of the FPL if they have access to employer coverage that costs less than 9.5% of their family income.

According to Wisconsin’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau, just by raising these premiums, 19,000 individuals, including 12,000 children, would lose their Medicaid coverage.  The group letter stated that allowing these individuals to lose coverage would be an inappropriate use of the Section 1115 waiver authority and be unprecedented.  Section 1115 waivers should promote the objectives of Medicaid and test innovative approaches to provide health care to families in Medicaid.  Waiving the maintenance of effort protections would have the opposite effect. 

Just from reading some of what’s been proposed, you can see that Jon’s analogy of a horror film is pretty accurate.  If these provisions were waived, this would be frightening to families, to say the least. 

We hope that HHS holds their ground on the maintenance of effort waiver in Wisconsin.