Wis. DHS: Medicaid shortfall has shrunk to $35.5M

Wisconsin’s projected Medicaid deficit has shrunk by nearly $337 million, state health officials said Friday.

Department of Health Services officials estimated in June the Medicaid program would face a $372.3 million deficit in the coming year. DHS Secretary Dennis Smith said in a letter to the leaders of the Legislature’s finance committee Friday that the agency now projects the shortfall will be $35.5 million.

Smith attributed the decrease to $27 million the state received from the federal government for retroactive service claims. He also noted that fewer people than anticipated have joined the state’s Family Care program since the Legislature lifted an enrollment cap in April. The Family Care program is designed to keep disabled and elderly people out of costly nursing homes.

Smith pointed to changes to the BadgerCare Plus program that included higher premiums for some participants and making people ineligible if they have access to affordable health insurance through their employers. BadgerCare Plus provides health insurance for poor children, pregnant women and poor adults.

The number of people receiving full Medicaid benefits dropped by 7,112 from January 2011 to August 2012, Smith added. The state is still dealing with a record full-benefits caseload of about 1.01 million people, though, he said.