The Joint Finance Committee Thursday green-lighted Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to drug test Medicaid recipients, adopting a GOP motion that also left intact many of the other changes to both Medicaid and food stamps the guv was pushing for.
In addition to making Wisconsin the first state to require certain Medicaid recipients to be drug tested, the motion also included a requirement for the Department of Health Services to request a waiver allowing work training requirements for all childless adults enrolled in Medicaid. It passed 12-4 over Dem protests that the changes amounted to an attack on the poor.
Sen. Lena Taylor slammed Walker’s DHS budget proposals as “cruel” to low-income individuals in the state.
“Gov Walker seeks to engage in some meaningless contest to see how cruel and discriminatory we can be toward the poor, to the most needy,” said Taylor, D-Milwaukee.
Dems also blasted the Republican decision to keep a provision that calls for a revised pilot program that would require some food stamp recipients with school-age children to work in order to receive benefits.
The provision also would require DHS to get a waiver from the feds. But the committee chose not to adopt Walker’s plan to implement the program statewide at the end of the pilot period, instead requiring it to be first evaluated by the state.
Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, called requiring DHS to request a waiver to include a work and training program for childless adults “one of the least fiscally responsible things in the world.”
But Republicans defended the proposal as a way to get more people working in Wisconsin. They also spoke about the possibility of getting federal block grants that would allow the state to decide how to allocate its welfare services.
Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, said GOP committee members only want to provide “opportunities” for people in the state.
“We really want to have people working and people adding value and people coming here and living here and thriving here,” she said.
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