WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is among the governors who have yet to decide whether they’ll opt out of the Medicaid expansion set to take effect in 2014 under the national health-care law.
In a brief interview Friday on the sidelines of the National Governors Association annual conference, Walker said he continues to “look at it very closely.” A transcript of the interview follows:
Q: Have you made a decision yet on whether or not to opt out of the Medicaid expansion?
“We haven’t. We’ll look at it. Obviously, today I wrote in the Post a little bit about the problems Obamacare creates for the state of Wisconsin.”
“We’re a state that has more than 90 percent of our people already covered today, and we have much more generous Medicaid benefits under BadgerCare than most states do already.”
“We still haven’t made a final decision, but we’re going to look at it very closely. I put $1.2 billion — which is more money than any governor in history in Wisconsin had done — into Medicaid already. So, obviously, we have some real concerns about whether or not that’s going to increase costs more than what they’ve been in the past.”
Q: Do you think there will be any consensus among the governors here this week when it comes to the Medicaid expansion?
“I think the closest thing you’ll get to a consensus is just that governors still are very concerned about it and that governors — like most people — still aren’t clear as to what is going to happen. For example, the executive director of the NGA about a week and a half ago wrote a letter to Secretary [of Health and Human Services Kathleen] Sebelius with a series of questions that governors have had. And I would imagine in the Health and Human Services Committee, we’ll talk at greater length about that. But one of the biggest concerns is the unknown. We really don’t know what we’re potentially getting into.”
Q: Are Medicaid reforms a part of the equation for you?
“Well, you’ve got to have Medicaid reform, because in our state, we did some of that, which has allowed us to put the $1.2 billion more in. But we reformed so that we can be sustainable. In almost every state here, Medicaid by far is the fastest-growing part of our budget.”
“And if you include that base that’s already growing, combined with — (the Congressional Budget Office) already documented a 2.8 percent increase from 2014 on for the first eight years — so you take what’s already growing out of control in most states and add another almost three percent increase on top of that, and I just don’t know how you sustain it.”