Governor Walker Signs Extraordinary Session Bills into Law, Including Medicaid Changes

Governor Walker signed the three extraordinary session bills passed by the legislature into law today. While Walker had previously said he was considering possible vetoes, he signed all of the bills into law as passed by the Legislature. The bills limit early voting to two weeks, create new legislative oversight of executive branch functions, place limits on the Attorney General’s ability to withdraw the state from lawsuits, create a process for the Legislature to intervene is certain lawsuits, and put the new work and cost-sharing requirements for childless adults on BadgerCare into law. 


There are several specific changes that may be of interest to WPSA.


  • Requires Joint Finance Committee (JFC) passive review of any Medicaid rate increases, supplemental provider payments or state plan amendments that have a fiscal impact of more than $7.5 million.


  • Creates a new waiver renewal and request process that includes strict legislative oversight. These changes will impact Family Care, IRIS, BadgerCare and other health and long-term care programs which are run using waivers. DHS may not submit a request to a federal agency for a waiver or a renewal, modification, withdrawal, suspension, or termination of a waiver unless legislation has been passed specifically directing the submission of the waiver.  At least 9 months before a waiver expires, DHS must submit a written notice to JFC of the expiration. If DHS intends to request substantive changes to the waiver, they must use the legislative oversight process created by the bill. This includes submitting a waiver implementation plan to the Joint Finance Committee,  submitting the proposed waiver request to JFC for approval before submitting it to the federal government, required bi-weekly contact with the federal agency negotiating the waiver request, progress reports to JFC on the negotiation process and JFC approval of the final negotiated waiver before it can take effect. If JFC determines that DHS has not made sufficient progress with a waiver request, they can reduce DHS’s administrative funding or staffing levels.


  • Creates new standards related to agency guidance documents, which the bill defines as “any formal or official document or communication issued by an agency, including a manual, handbook, directive, or informational bulletin” that explains the agency’s implementation of a statute or rule or offers guidance or advice on how the agency is likely to apply a statute or rule. It requires state agencies to cite the relevant state or federal statutory reference or administrative code in any guidance documents they release. Proposed guidance documents must be posted for public comment before they can be adopted. Once the guidance document is finalized, it must remain on the agency's website as long as it is in effect. It also prohibits agencies from seeking deference in a legal action based on their interpretation of any law.


  • Updates the current law process that allows the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative rules to suspend an administrative rule to clarify that the Committee can initiate the process to suspend a rule multiple times.