10/06/11 – Governor Scott Walker is defending his health secretary’s plans to cut Medicaid spending. At a news conference in Madison Wednesday, the Republican governor said the proposed cuts are designed to continue serving those who need it the most – and to make others pay more for their Medicaid coverage as their incomes go up. Last week, Health Services’ Secretary Dennis Smith unveiled 554-million dollars in savings for Badger-Care and other Medicaid health programs for the poor and the elderly. Among other things, the state is asking for a federal waiver to tighten eligibility requirements for some people who can get coverage from their employers. Without the waiver, provisions in the new state budget would force 53-thousand people to lose their tax-funded Medicaid coverage. And even if the state does get the waiver, about 215-thousand more recipients would get reductions in their benefits. Democrats have slammed the cuts – and they’ve proposed a bill to have the Legislature decide on major Medicaid reductions once again. But Walker’s office has said that mismanagement by Democrats is partially to blame for a huge deficit in the state’s Medicaid programs.