Gov. Walker: Success Not Measured by ‘How Many People Are Dependent on the Government’

By Melanie Arter | February 24, 2014 | 1:05 PM EST

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) (AP File Photo)

( – Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on “Fox News Sunday” defended his decision to turn down $119 million in federal money to expand Medicaid, saying, “I don’t think the measure of success in government is how many people are dependent on the government.”

“Well in our case, I don’t think the measure of success in government is how many people are dependent on the government. I want people to no longer be dependent, because we empower them to get good jobs, family support and careers in the private sector, and that’s part of our philosophy,” Walker said.

Not only did Walker turn down federal dollars to expand Medicaid, he deferred to a federal exchange to run Obamacare, instead of a state exchange. Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, in contrast, accepted federal aid to expand Medicaid, and the state runs its own state Obamacare exchange.

Shumlin said voters want governors “to get health care to folks who can’t afford it, to accept hundreds of millions of dollars of federal money, to help support something that both business and individuals struggle to pay for.”

“We did something unique. We didn’t do what other states did by just not taking the Medicaid expansion. We didn’t take the challenges that come with the Medicaid expansion and putting our taxpayers at risk,” Walker said.

Wisconsin’s previous Democrat governor, Walker pointed out, “had people on a waiting list living in poverty for health care.” But during Walker’s administration, for the first time in state history, they covered everyone living in poverty under Medicaid, and everyone above poverty is covered by transitioning them to the marketplace. That’s 224,000 more covered than before, “and yet, we don’t put the taxpayers at risk.”

“I think that’s a win. I think that’s what people are looking for out of Republicans or Democrats is leaders who find a unique way to reform things,” Walker added.

Shumlin said Walker is turning down $4.4 billion in federal funds over the next decade that would help residents get affordable health care. “These Republican governors have - because they don’t like the president, because they want to make a political point are hurting their constituents, and I think that’s going to hurt them at the polls,” Shumlin said.

To which Walker responded: “Because I love the taxpayers. I don’t want to put them at risk.”

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