Newsmakers: Sen. Jon Erpenbach and Rep. Jon Richards on Medicaid

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Two Democratic legislators, Sen. Jon Erpenbach and Rep. Jon Richards, said state government has a moral and financial obligation to expand Medicaid health-care coverage to up to 175,000 low-income residents, especially since the federal government is scheduled to pay 100% of expansion costs through 2016. Erpenbach and Richards discussed a new Fiscal Bureau memo that estimated, if 175,000 more residents enrolled in Medicare at federal expense, it would bring in $4.3 billion more in federal aid between 2014 and 2020 and only cost state government $66.7 million. Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos have questioned whether Wisconsin should expand Medicaid, saying the federal government may not live up to its funding promises. About 1.1 million — or 1 out of 5 residents statewide — now rely on Medicaid for health care. Walker will present his 2013-15 budget Feb. 20.

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