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Knocking Down a Barrier to Marriage for Wisconsinites with Disabilities

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January 7, 2008

Madison, WI – A "marriage penalty" for people with disabilities? Under current Wisconsin law, those receiving Medicaid assistance would lose that funding if they marry someone with just a few thousand dollars in assets. State Representative Steve Wieckert of Appleton says that effectively bars many people with disabilities from marrying, and he has proposed a law to change that.

"It equals the playing field, so to speak. It is unfair to force people to choose between getting married or losing all their health care."

Timothy Carey of Appleton knows the dilemma all too well. He has muscular dystrophy, which has resulted in quadriplegia, and is worried about his prospects for the future.

"If I get married, and my spouse has over $3,000, I lose Medicaid."

Wiekert notes that the law could be cost-neutral for the state, because many people now avoid marriage in order to continue receiving benefits. Disabilities advocates say the proposed law is a step in the right direction, but some would like to see it also include those Medicaid recipients classified as "medically needy."


Rob Ferrett/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - WI