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Lawmakers are making decisions that go beyond curbing the power of the incoming governor and attorney general. The Wednesday overnight measures that did and didn’t pass regarding health care could impact millions of Wisconsinites.

The state Legislature approved new work requirements for some of the 1.2 million Medicaid recipients in the state. If passed, the changes require childless adults up to age 49 to complete at least 80 hours of work to maintain coverage.

Currently, the State Department of Health Services works directly with the federal government to make changes to Medicaid waivers. Advocates for those with disabilities fear what happened overnight in the Capitol could set a new precedent. The change could make it so the Department of Health Services first must go through the state Legislature before changes to Medicaid are ultimately made at the federal level.

“We’re just concerned that people disabilities and their families could get caught in the crosshairs of some sort of political football if there was a disagreement between the Legislature and state department about changes that need to be made,” explained Beth Swedeen with the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities.

Swedeen is concerned that the new process could slow down changes or updates to Medicaid waivers which allow people with disabilities to get additional services in the state.

“Things like where people can help with bathing and dressing. Also things like technology. So if you have a child who has autism who is a flight risk you can have a yard enclosed with a fence,” Swedeen said.

The state Senate rejected a bill that would have created a guarantee that people with pre-existing conditions can have access to health insurance. Democrats said the measure provided inadequate coverage and would cause premiums to skyrocket.

Gov. Scott Walker would need to sign the Medicaid bill into law for it to go into effect. The Affordable Care Act would need to be repealed in order for people with pre-existing conditions to lose coverage.

Written by Keely Arthur

Keely Arthur

Keely Arthur is a reporter at WISC-TV/Channel3000.

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