Dennis Smith – The Dangerous New Secretary at the Department of Health Services
SeniorCare, BadgerCare in Peril
MADISON- Wisconsin’s new Secretary of the Department of Health Services, Dennis Smith, has been a loud and longtime advocate in the public health policy world. But for whom - and for what- is he advocating?
Among his dangerous ideas over the years has been to minimize the importance of health insurance, outright advocacy against Medicare and Medicaid and Wisconsin’s successful SeniorCare program, and the end of programs like BadgerCare, which insures almost 400,000 working Wisconsin families and their children.
As the Director of the federal State Operations Centers for Medicare and Medicaid under George W. Bush, Smith administered the federal government’s Medicaid program, including the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP).
In this capacity, Smith worked to deny Wisconsin waivers necessary to administer its successful SeniorCare program, which helps seniors bridge the gap in prescription drug coverage. SeniorCare was only saved through Senator Herb Kohl authoring and working to pass an amendment to a defense spending bill, which ensured Wisconsin seniors affordable access to prescription drugs.
Following his stint with the federal government, Smith went on to serve as an expert for the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation, where he authored research briefs proposing, among other things, that states opt out of Medicare and Medicaid (see below).
In a state like Wisconsin, where the federal government provides matching funding at a rate of $1.60 for every state dollar spent, the loss of federal funding would create a system chronically overwhelmed and underfunded. Put simply, Gov. Scott Walker wants to cut state dollars allocated for Medical Assistance programs, and the leader he has now hand-picked to advance his agenda at DHS wants to refuse federal dollars. This would ensure massive shortfalls in health programs throughout every corner of Wisconsin.
“Being uninsured does not mean an individual is in poor health.”
“Do college students and part-time workers really belong on Medicaid?”
Proposes opt-out from federal Medicaid