According to a report from the state’s nonpartisan fiscal agency, Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to delay moving more than 70,000 people off BadgerCare will save the state $23 million.
The Legislative Fiscal Bureau, which released the report Wednesday, reported that without the delay, keeping the 72,000 young adults on BadgerCare until April 1 rather than the original plan for Jan. 1, would cost the state $17.2 million.
The original budget bill for the 2013-2015 biennium would have terminated those policies on Dec. 31. According to the bill text, individuals with health policies under the Health Insurance Risk-Sharing Plan Authority are able to maintain coverage until March 31.
Sen. Tim Cullen, D-Janesville, said in a statement that he “praised” Walker for extending BadgerCare coverage for those 72,000 adults as the health care exchanges were adjusted.
However, Cullen said Walker’s “solution” to the issues with the exchanges is unsatisfactory because paying for the extended coverage delayed insurance coverage to even poorer Wisconsinites.
“The proposal would cover, for example, a family of four with a combined annual income of $47,100 while delaying coverage for childless adults who all have annual incomes below $11,490,” Cullen said. “I find no humane rationale for this decision.”
Cullen suggested accepting federal Medicaid money to cover both groups until March 31 or having the state pay $21.6 million to cover both groups.
The $21.6 million accounts for less than one-half of one percent of the state’s $4.8 billion biennial Medicaid budget, Cullen said.
ABC for Health Executive Director Bobby Peterson also released a statement saying Walker’s delay of coverage is “not honest.”
“The governor and Legislature need to stand up and provide coverage for these people,” Peterson said. “The governor bragged about his half a billion surplus in the state in his book, ‘Unintimidated.’ These are the most vulnerable, low-income family members, neighbors and friends. And they were waiting. They were told there was going to be coverage.”
Peterson added the state should accept the federal Medicaid money, just as Ohio and other states did.
The bill also changes the definition of “family income” to determine BadgerCare eligibility from total gross earned and unearned income by all family members to a measure based on modified adjusted gross income.
The Joint Finance Committee will hold an executive session Monday on the bills for the special session. The Assembly reconvenes for the special session Dec. 4, while the Senate reconvenes Dec. 19.