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Letter to the Editor: Say No to Proposed Wisconsin Medicaid Waiver Request

At HELP of Door County, Inc. we are aware of Governor Walker’s plans to submit a waiver to the federal government requesting that certain Medicaid enrollees be subjected to drug testing, premiums, coverage limits (including a 48-month eligibility limit) and other requirements to receive benefits. As advocates for those individuals trying to escape from lives of domestic violence, we are greatly concerned that if this waiver is submitted and approved by the federal government, it will have a direct impact on many of the domestic violence survivors who we serve.

The inability to access healthcare is one of the most challenging barriers for victims to overcome as they work to empower themselves and live free of abuse. This waiver will limit the ability of victims to access healthcare independent of their abuser.

Survivors who take the courageous step to leave a batterer already have numerous obstacles to overcome in order to live free of abuse. This waiver, by limiting the availability of care for Medicaid enrollees, will unnecessarily place victims of domestic violence in harm’s way as they struggle to access health care independent of their abusers.

This waiver will only serve to increase these barriers and subject victims to further trauma. For struggling victims, access to Medicaid services can mean the difference between leaving a batterer or continuing to experience the cycle of abuse to which they have been previously subjected. It is critically important that the state not add additional barriers like drug testing and enrollment limits to accessing affordable care.

We have also witnessed that in states which previously set similar limits on benefit eligibility through processes like drug testing, the entire process is not only extremely costly but also ineffective. These applicants actually test positive for drugs at a lower rate than the drug use typically seen in the general population. This waiver will only serve to increase the shame associated with receiving these needed public benefits – adding to the stigma that often already exists for survivors struggling to leave their abusers. This waiver will make it even less likely that domestic violence survivors will seek out health care apart from their abusers.

For these reasons, we strongly oppose Governor Walker’s proposal, and urge that the waiver not be submitted to the federal government.

We hope that the citizens of Door County will contact our elected representatives and express their concerns as we all work together to make Door County and our state a better place to live.

Steven Vickman, Executive Director, HELP of Door County

Sturgeon Bay, Wis.

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