This is a guest post by Mike Bachhuber, Executive Director of the Independent Living Council of Wisconsin.
Update (3/23/2011): The Senate version of the “Budget Repair Bill,” SB-11, failed due to Constitutionally required procedures. The Senate did not have enough members present since the 14 Democratic Senators exercised a “walking veto.”
The lower house did pass a similar bill. This bill was amended and passed by the Wisconsin Senate on March 9. It was passed by the Assembly the following day and signed by Gov. Walker on March 11. The bill was passed largely on party line votes.
At least two law suits contend that the procedures followed were not legal. A court has ruled in one suit to prevent the bill from being published and going into effect as of March 22.
The enacted version of the Bill still transfers authority to make changes to medical assistance from the Legislature to the Secretary of Health Services. However, it now requires the Secretary to use regular administrative procedures to change the program. These procedures require a public hearing, usually before the changes would go into effect. They also allow the Legislature to block the rule. In addition, the special authority and any rules changing the program will expire January 1, 2015.
Original Post: Senate Bill 11, Wisconsin’s “Budget Repair Bill” gives government officials power to change health care available to the state’s low-income residents without public opportunity for input. The legislature has held this power since the beginning of the program.
State statutes provide most of the details for BadgerCare, the state’s federally-supported “medical assistance” program. Until now, these statutes have defined details such as:
- Which people needing care are eligible;
- Types of care available to them;
- How care providers are paid and
- What people needing care must pay.