We should be accepting money

For reasons that have to do with politics and partisan political allegiances as opposed to compassion or even impersonal economics, Wisconsin’s majority legislators continue to refuse the opportunity to accept and draw down a total of $1.6 billion in federal funds to expand BadgerCare health coverage.

As a consequence, an estimate of more than 82,000 Wisconsinites will not have access to affordable quality health care for their families. Put bluntly, this political travesty may amount to a death sentence for some of these unfortunate and uncovered people.

Not only are these people at risk but so are other essential community service programs — think of schools, roads, libraries and more — because $324.5 million in budget allocations, which could be provided if the rejected federal funding is accepted, must otherwise be diverted to support other partisan commitments. Think of “pork barrel” commitments and other pet projects favored by the oppositional Wisconsin legislators.

In other words, drawing down these federal funds would preserve $324.5 million in state tax dollars to support other services in Wisconsin communities. Not only that, but of the 2019-21 Wisconsin Department of Health Services budget proposal of $2.6 billion from combined federal and state dollars, $2.4 billion, including other initiatives, will be invested to improve health care access and quality in Wisconsin communities. This amount includes, for example, $46 million in Eau Claire County, $31 million in Chippewa County, $14 million in Dunn County, $9 million in Trempealeau County and $3 million in Buffalo County.

Whether based on compassion, economics, community support, or a combination, now is a very appropriate time for concerned Wisconsinites to contact our state representatives and insist that the available federal funds be accepted and that BadgerCare coverage be expanded by approving the proposed DHS budget.

Michael Lindsay

Eau Claire