GREEN BAY - With thousands of people protesting about workers rights in Madison, perhaps lost in the shuffle is a budget issue that could affect one out of five people in the state.
"Our voices will not be heard," said Lisa Fregoso who is disabled.
Fregoso and her daughter, who is also disabled, live in De Pere.
They are two of about 1.2 million people in the state who receive assistance from Medicaid.
In Governor Scott Walker's budget bill, decisions about public medical assistance programs would be made by the Department of Health Services with approval from the Joint Finance Committee.
Right now, those decisions go through the Legislature with public input. On page seven of the budget bill it says, "DHS may promulgate the rules as emergency rules." That would allow the department to set rules on eligibility, cost sharing, benefits covered and reimbursement rates.
"We need to have more flexibility and have the ability to make an appeal to the federal government," said Walker.
Based on the proposed changes for income eligibility, more than 50,000 people could lose coverage in July of next year.
Fregoso says if she lost her medical help, she wouldn't be able to afford her or her daughter's healthcare.
"People in general do not understand what it's like to have all the disabilities or health issues if they have never been in your shoes, so when we need to have our voices heard I think legislation should hear it from our hearts what we have to go through daily," said Fregoso.
Walker says the changes are necessary because Medicaid accounts for half the budget gap, $1.8 billion, during the next two fiscal years.
"We are going to move for changes that allow people to make that, particularly when it comes to BadgerCare, not a permanent entitlement, but something that as we ease people into the workforce, we also start to adjust those things, so that it's not a permanent way of life," said Walker.
"I understand the budget is important and they need to make cuts somewhere, but cuts on people's health and their lives, I don't see that's fair," said Fregoso.
The Wisconsin Council on Children and Families says with everything going on in Madison it has had problems getting a hold of legislators about addressing the issue. It says when it has talked to lawmakers many of them didn't have much to say about the medical assistance issues in the bill, because like the public, they hadn't heard much about it.
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