The Wisconsin Way?
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin calls on Governor Walker to move health care reform forward.
A missed opportunity for a federal investment to strengthen our state BadgerCare program. Almost sixty-three thousand low-income parents terminated from the program. Nearly thirty-eight thousand people kicked off their health insurance and unaccounted for by the Walker Administration. Wisconsin taxpayers exposed to higher costs.
Governor Walker has called this the “Wisconsin Way” and when I raised concerns he said, “This is something where somebody is looking for a problem that doesn’t exist.”
The problem is not just that the Governor and our Republican controlled State Legislature refused to accept a federal investment in our BadgerCare program, but the larger problem is that they also decided to pursue a plan that the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) says will cost taxpayers more and cover fewer people. In fact, the LFB report showed that if the Walker Administration had chosen to accept federal funding through the Affordable Care Act for a full expansion of BadgerCare, the state could have saved more than $500 million over 3 ½ years and about 87,000 more adults would have been served under BadgerCare Plus.
The Walker Administration’s fiscally irresponsible path isn’t the “Wisconsin way,” it’s the wrong way.
In July, Walker’s own Department of Health Services released a report that revealed the Governor’s decision to kick approximately 63,000 Wisconsinites out of BadgerCare has resulted in a gap in coverage despite his claims that there is no coverage gap in Wisconsin. The Walker Administration had contended that they would successfully transition 90 percent of these former BadgerCare recipients to plans in the Affordable Care Act’s Marketplace. However, that promise was not kept for 60 percent, almost 38,000 individuals. Health care policy experts project that many of these Wisconsinites, some making as little as $12,000 a year, are now likely uninsured. What’s worse is that not only has the Governor failed to effectively transition them to the private health insurance Marketplace offered by the Affordable Care Act, but that his Administration can’t account for them.
That is why I called on Governor Walker to fully account for the nearly 38,000 people in Wisconsin who he terminated from BadgerCare coverage. It is also why I worked to find a solution for these Wisconsinites. I asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to immediately grant a special enrollment period in the federal Marketplace for the almost 38,000 Wisconsinites who lost their health insurance coverage because of the choices Governor Walker has made.
Recently, the Obama Administration answered my call to help fix the problem caused by the Walker Administration. This special enrollment period will provide the Walker Administration with a second chance to keep their promise to the people that they removed from BadgerCare. It is now my hope that Governor Walker will embrace this opportunity and work to provide these Wisconsinites the health insurance they need and deserve.
I fully understand that despite the fact the Affordable Care Act has provided health care coverage to 139,815 Wisconsinites who have signed up for private health insurance through the Marketplace, Governor Walker opposes the health reform law and has supported its repeal.
But the last thing Wisconsin families need right now when they are struggling to get ahead is elected officials putting their own personal, partisan politics first. It’s time to seize the opportunity to move health care reform forward and put progress for Wisconsin ahead of politics. That is the “Wisconsin Way.”
Tammy Baldwin is a Democratic U.S. Senator from Wisconsin.