Mechanisms are available to Wisconsin that would allow state officials to take action to help people with disabilities. These are called “waivers”; with them, Wisconsin would have the ability to modify rules in our Medicaid programs to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. To be able to use flexibility in Wisconsin’s Medicaid programs, special requests must be made to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). So far 41 states have had these waivers approved by CMS.
Wisconsin is in a different position and is unable to make the request without legislative approval. Act 370, passed by the legislature in late 2018, requires the Department of Health Services to submit waiver requests to the Wisconsin legislature for approval before officials can submit the requests to CMS. Wisconsin is virtually the only state that requires these requests to get prior legislative approval, which is why other states have been able to move more quickly to protect their citizens. The assembly has finished its business for the session and the senate has only one day left on its schedule. DRW calls on legislative leaders to convene immediately in order to move these waivers along. The well-being of vulnerable people in Wisconsin is at stake. Read DRW’s letter to the legislative leaders and the Governor.