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WI healthcare shortfall could reach $850M

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 15, 2010

In spite of a recent round of cost cutting, the potential shortfall in the state's health-care programs for the poor, elderly and disabled has grown to as much as $850 million in state and federal money, threatening to throw the entire state budget out of balance. Wisconsin Health Services Secretary Karen Timberlake told lawmakers of the expanding deficit as they approved a sweeping audit Wednesday of the state's Family Care program. Republicans have questioned the financial sustainability of that program, which provides long-term care to the elderly and those with physical and developmental disabilities. Timberlake last year was directed to find $600 million in savings for Medicaid, which provides health care to the poor, elderly and disabled and which includes the Family Care program. But Timberlake said Wednesday that the recession has opened up a new shortfall on top of those cuts because of diminished revenue and a flood of newly unemployed workers seeking health coverage.