HUDSON — The St. Croix County Board showed its support for expanding Medicaid as part of the Wisconsin state budget in a 15-3 vote.
The motion was mainly about taking a symbolic stand, as the budget is currently on the governor’s desk awaiting approval.
That stand is still an important one to take, Economic Support Administrator Ronda Brown said.
The expansion would have the state accept an additional $1 billion in new federal funding for the next two years, in addition to $635 million Wisconsin would already receive by becoming a Medicaid expansion state. An approval of the expansion would mean increased behavioral health services in the county and across the state. It would allow for a great focus on preventative care rather and wellness management, rather than reactive care, Brown said.
The expansion would significantly help all of the state’s counties, Supervisor Scottie Ard said. When residents are unable to afford mental health care, it costs the counties, she said. The expansion would help address the issue of those who are uninsured or underinsured, especially those who make just barely enough to no longer qualify for state healthcare.
“We allow our communities’ residents to go untreated when we have the ability, we have the ability,” Ard said. “And with this expansion, expanding to not having people come to us but going to where they are to provide mental health services, to do the early interventions, this is what saves us money, this is what makes us a stronger county and eventually makes us a stronger state.”
Supervisor Bob Long asked what the reasoning has been in the past to prevent the expansion.
“If this makes so much sense, why is it not being pursued at a state level,” he asked.
Brown said it has become a sticking point for representatives who are opposed to bigger government and more government funding.
In past administrations the issue was political, Ard said.
“It wasn’t about people, and that’s what we're here to do, is serve the people. So take politics out of it and start looking at the economic sense,” she said.
The resolution passed with Long, Shawn Anderson and Paul Berning voting no.
In other business, the board also:
Sent a resolution in support of upholding transparency in renewable energy development to the community development committee
Add a ATV/UTV trail running on County Road CC from 210th to Goose Lake Road
Updated five personnel policies in an ongoing effort to look at all such policies