Wisconsin Medicaid Trends & Comparisons

February 2011


Medicaid, or Medical Assistance (MA), provides health coverage to more than 60 million low-income individuals nationally. Through new programs and expanded eligibility, Wisconsin now has 1.2 million MA enrollees, 191% more than in 1998. State spending on the program, excluding the federal contribution, totalled $2.1 billion in state fiscal year 2009, up from $905 million in 1998.

  • Most Wisconsin Medicaid recipients are covered under the state’s family-related MA program, BadgerCare Plus.
  • Medicaid enrollment here increased second fastest nationally during the period from 2001 to 2009.
  • Total state MA spending ranked 20th highest nationally in 2009.

Medical Assistance, also known as Medicaid or MA, presents Wisconsin state government with its most significant challenge as it struggles to close a projected 2011-13 budget deficit of $3.6 billion. No major state program has grown faster over the past decade; only K-12 school aid claims a larger share of the general fund budget; and few recipient populations are as needy as MA’s.
Nevertheless, recent enrollment and spending trends leave many questioning the long-term sustainability of the program. From 2001 to 2009, Medicaid enrollment here increased faster than in all states except Arizona. State spending on the program also exceeded the national average.