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Wisconsin Continues to Pay a Price for Failing to Strengthen BadgerCare through the Affordable Care Act

Washington, DC - Today, Senator Tammy Baldwin renewed her call for Governor Scott Walker to seize the opportunity to strengthen BadgerCare through the Affordable Care Act.
“Wisconsin continues to pay a price for Governor Walker’s insistence on putting politics ahead of what’s best for our state,” said Baldwin.  “He has refused to accept an investment to strengthen our BadgerCare program and instead he continues to take Wisconsin down a fiscally irresponsible path that covers fewer people at a higher cost to taxpayers. It doesn’t have to be this way but Governor Walker insists on his plan of kicking tens of thousands of people off of BadgerCare and into an exchange he wants repealed - while at the same time keeping over 80,000 people out in the cold for another three months without the health care they need.”
Because of the health care law, states can choose to expand their Medicaid coverage to all adults with incomes below 133 percent of poverty (around $32,000 for a family of four) and in return receive 100 percent of federal funding to cover those costs for the first three years and no less than 90 percent federal support for those costs in the years following. So far, 26 states and the District of Columbia have taken up this Medicaid expansion opportunity, In fact, thanks to these states and the opening of the new Health Insurance Marketplaces, we know that 6 in 10 currently uninsured Americans will have access to health coverage for $100 per month or less next year, and that number would rise to 8 in 10 if the states that haven’t expanded coverage – including Wisconsin – did.
Expanding Medicaid is a smart choice for Wisconsin. Since expanding Medicaid reduces medical expenses that states pay for uncompensated care, the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that states would generate net savings from expanding Medicaid. According to Kaiser, expanding Medicaid could save states a total of $10 billion through 2022.
State analyses back up these national reports that Governor Walker’s plan to reject the Medicaid expansion covers fewer people at a higher cost. The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau has found that compared to taking the federal investment to expand Medicaid, Governor Walker’s plan will cost Wisconsin taxpayers $119 million more over the next two years to cover 85,000 fewer people through BadgerCare. Through 2020, the Governor’s plan costs $250 million more than expanding BadgerCare under the federal Medicaid expansion.
A recent story from a patient at the St. Clare Health Mission in La Crosse highlights the personal struggles Wisconsinites are facing under Governor Walker’s plan. According to the La Crosse Tribune, a local man in his mid-40s, who has a hernia and whose employer would not allow him to work until it is repaired, is in jeopardy of losing his job because he will not have health insurance coverage at the beginning of the year. If the Governor had taken the opportunity to strengthen BadgerCare, this man would be covered and would be able to schedule a surgery the first week of January. But under Governor Walker’s plan, he is not eligible for insurance until April 1, risking loss of his job because his employer won’t wait that long.