10/19/11 – Wisconsinites will get their first chance today to comment on the proposed cuts in the state’s Medicaid health programs for the poor and the elderly. State health officials will hold town hall meetings today in Madison, and on Friday in Milwaukee. The Save Badger-Care Coalition says it will speak out against the cuts. That group represents advocates for children, the elderly, and public health organizations. State officials say Medicaid has built up huge deficits due to higher health costs and more clients, many of whom are victims of the Great Recession. Health services secretary Dennis Smith has proposed over 550-million-dollars in spending cuts in the forms of tighter eligibility for benefits and higher premiums. The state is also asking for a federal waiver – and without it, over 50-thousand recipients could lose their health coverage. After this week’s meetings, the state will ask federal health officials to approve the cuts.