Wisconsin Weighs Delay in Removing Poor From BadgerCare

Walker: Where's the beef?
National Journal
Clara Ritger
See more stories about...
Clara Ritger
Dec. 4, 2013, 5:02 a.m.

The Wis­con­sin Le­gis­lature is sched­uled to vote Wed­nes­day on a meas­ure that would keep 72,000 res­id­ents from be­ing taken off the state’s health-cov­er­age plan for its low-in­come res­id­ents, but state Demo­crats say the delay would also post­pone cov­er­age for even more of the state’s poor.

Start­ing Jan. 1, Wis­con­sin­ites earn­ing more than 100 per­cent of the fed­er­al poverty line would be shif­ted off Badger­Care and in­to the Obama­care ex­change to pur­chase in­sur­ance. Be­cause of the tu­mul­tu­ous rol­lout of Health­Care.gov, Re­pub­lic­an Gov. Scott Walk­er for­mu­lated a plan to delay the trans­ition from Badger­Care un­til April 1.

Badger­Care of­fers in­sur­ance to Wis­con­sin­ites whose em­ploy­ers do not provide it and whose in­come is too high to qual­i­fy for Medi­caid. The pro­gram cov­ers people earn­ing up to 200 per­cent of the fed­er­al poverty line, but it will be rolled back to 100 per­cent of the fed­er­al poverty line, the least amount Amer­ic­ans can earn to qual­i­fy for premi­um tax cred­its on the ex­change.

The tim­ing of the roll­back is what’s now un­der con­sid­er­a­tion.

A delay would save tax­pay­ers $23 mil­lion, the state’s non­par­tis­an budget of­fice es­tim­ates. And with Oc­to­ber en­roll­ment mark­ing a mea­ger 877 Wis­con­sin­ites, the gov­ernor’s as­ser­tion that res­id­ents need more time to nav­ig­ate Health­Care.gov could pre­vent a cov­er­age gap for thou­sands of low-in­come shop­pers.

Demo­crats aren’t on board with the delay, however, be­cause it would also delay adding an es­tim­ated 83,000 res­id­ents liv­ing be­low the fed­er­al poverty line who would be­come newly eli­gible for the pro­gram.

“You in­tend to pay for the cost of ex­tend­ing Medi­caid/Badger­Care to these low-in­come Wis­con­sin cit­izens by delay­ing cov­er­age to even poorer Wis­con­sin cit­izens by the same three months,” wrote Demo­crat­ic state Sen. Tim Cul­len in a let­ter to Walk­er. “Put simply, you pro­pose to pay to cov­er the second-low­est in­come group by delay­ing cov­er­age to the very poorest Wis­con­sin cit­izens who have no cov­er­age today.”

Walk­er re­jec­ted fed­er­al money for Medi­caid ex­pan­sion, one of 25 Re­pub­lic­an U.S. gov­ernors to do so. He has said he does not be­lieve the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment will fol­low through on its prom­ise to cov­er the costs of ex­pan­sion.

He de­fends the delay of the Badger­Care over­haul with a sim­il­ar lo­gic.

“People who are tak­ing the Medi­caid ex­pan­sion are de­pend­ing on the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment liv­ing up to their com­mit­ment, a fed­er­al gov­ern­ment that can’t even get a web­site up and go­ing,” Walk­er said last month.

Since Walk­er’s com­ments and the un­veil­ing of his pro­pos­al, the Health and Hu­man Ser­vices De­part­ment has made hun­dreds of fixes to Health­Care.gov. On Sunday, it an­nounced that it met its goal to make the on­line fed­er­al ex­change a smooth ex­per­i­ence for “the vast ma­jor­ity of users.”

An­ec­dotes re­por­ted in the me­dia sug­gest that some Amer­ic­ans are still hit­ting obstacles when nav­ig­at­ing Health­Care.gov. But num­bers re­leased by HHS say the site has been up and run­ning more con­sist­ently, with low er­ror rates and short wait times, es­pe­cially when com­pared with the Oct. 1 launch.

Con­sumers have un­til Dec. 23 to sign up for ex­change cov­er­age that be­gins Jan. 1. If the Re­pub­lic­an-con­trolled Le­gis­lature ap­proves the delay, however, cur­rent Badger­Care re­cip­i­ents would be covered by the pro­gram through March, giv­ing them more time to shop for in­sur­ance, but for­cing oth­er low-in­come Wis­con­sin­ites to wait longer for cov­er­age.

What We're Following See More »
BAD NEWS FOR CLINTON
Trump and Clinton Equally Disliked
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

According to the most recent Gallup poll, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are equally disliked. The poll, conducted between July 18 and July 25, shows both major party candidates for president are viewed favorably by 37 percent of respondents and unfavorably by 58 percent of respondents. This poll is bad news for Clinton, who has received better favorable and unfavorable ratings in nearly every poll over the last year.

Source:
VP PICK TAKES DIFFERENT TONE THAN TRUMP
Pence: “Serious Consequences” if Russia Hacked DNC
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The same day that Donald Trump encouraged Russia to hack the State Department and "find the 30,000 emails that are missing," the GOP nominee for vice president took a more serious approach. "If it is Russia and they are interfering in our elections, I can assure you both parties and the United States government will ensure there are serious consequences," Pence said in a statement. Trump's comments at a press conference this morning were rebuked by individuals across the political spectrum, while some on Trump's team, including prominent surrogate Newt Gingrich, have called his comments a "joke."

Source:
ECONOMY STABILIZING
Fed Leaves Rates Alone, but Signals Hikes to Come
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The Federal Open Market Committee today voted to leave interest rates alone, but "upgraded its assessment of the economy’s recent performance and said near-term risks to the outlook have diminished, effectively leaving the door open to raise rates later this year, possibly as early as September."

Source:
CHARM OFFENSIVE
Pence Is Trump’s Man on Capitol Hill
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Spurred by VP pick Mike Pence, a former congressman with close ties to many lawmakers, the Trump campaign in recent weeks has stepped up its courtship of wary Capitol Hill Republicans. And the efforts appear to be bearing fruit." Central to the charm offensive: invitations to more than a dozen "Senate and House members into his family’s private box for some power-schmoozing with him and his kids" during the Republican National Convention.

Source:
PAUL RYAN: STOP IT
Trump Encourages More Spying by Russia
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump essentially encouraged more Russian espionage against Democrats in a press conference this morning. "Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” he said. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” That prompted Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan to say: “Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug. Putin should stay out of this election.”

Source:
×