UPDATE: Public speaks out against Medicaid cuts

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A plan to cut about half a billion dollars from the state’s Medicaid costs put forward by Gov. Scott Walker’s administration is drawing an overwhelmingly negative response at the first of two public hearings.

Advocates for the poor, elderly and others covered by a host of Medicaid programs spoke out Wednesday against the proposal that would lead to increased premiums and the shifting of hundreds of thousands of people into less costly state or private plans.

Karen Foxgrover, a volunteer advocate for people with disabilities, called the proposed cuts scary even though she understands why they are necessary.

The Department of Health Services says the changes are needed given the rising cost, loss of federal money and exploding enrollment growth in various Medicaid programs.