Daily Video

December 29, 2010

Political Battle in Wisconsin Over Health Care

After the November mid-term elections, Republicans won sweeping victories across the country. In Wisconsin, Republicans took the governorship, the state Legislature, two U.S. congressional seats and a U.S. Senate seat away from Democrats. Health Correspondent Betty Ann Bowser reports from Wisconsin on health care reform which was a major factor in these political gains and now a battle is brewing over many aspects of the new law but especially Medicaid.

In Wisconsin, Medicaid is known as BadgerCare. Medicaid is a health program for eligible low income individuals and families funded by the state and federal governments. Governor-elect Scott Walker with the full support of the incoming Legislature has plans to go to court to challenge the new federal health care reform law. They are planning to join 20 other states in a federal court case in Florida that challenges the constitutionality of the provision in the new law that requires most Americans to purchase health insurance.

The main problem that Governor-elect Walker and his colleagues have with the new health care law is that it will mean higher health care costs, at a time when Wisconsin has a $4 billion budget deficit, high unemployment and an increasing BadgerCare population.

Despite their perseverance, there is a wave of health care reform activists who are gearing up to lobby against BadgerCare cuts. One population in particular, childless adults, a category not covered in most states but under a waiver obtained from Washington last year by outgoing Democratic Governor and health-care reform supporter Jim Doyle, BadgerCare was expanded to include them — 64,000 new people qualified for the program. Today, another 80,000 are currently on waiting lists.


“Medicaid here in Wisconsin is a multibillion-dollar program. One in five people in Wisconsin are on some form of Medicaid, whether they’re in a nursing home or they’re receiving long-term care at home or they’re receiving health care, what we would typically think of health care, at a doctor, at a clinic, at a hospital. Right now, this program has expanded dramatically over — since 2007.” Jason Stein, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“I don’t have to worry if I have to go to the E.R. because I’m having an attack. I can look them in the eye and I know they’re going to get paid. I know, and that’s a big help. I don’t feel like a pariah.” Matt Vogel, Wisconsin

Warm Up Questions

1.Which two governing bodies make up the U.S. Congress?2.Where is Wisconsin?3.What is a governor’s job?

Discussion Questions

1.Do you agree that most Americans should purchase health insurance? Why or why not?2.If you were a politician writing the health care reform law, what programs would you increase or decrease?

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