After complications with the national health insurance marketplace website sparked concerns among Wisconsinites being moved off of BadgerCare, the state is switching to paper applications for enrollment.

Claire Smith, Department of Health Services spokesperson, said Gov. Scott Walker and DHS are moving forward with Walker’s plan to move residents above the poverty line off BadgerCare and allow them to apply for insurance through the federal exchange.

One method of raising enrollment is the department’s decision to use paper applications, which were sent out starting Tuesday. Smith added the letters will include instructions on how to apply.

According to a Wednesday report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 877 Wisconsin residents have enrolled in marketplace plans so far.

Smith said while individuals who do not apply for coverage by Dec. 15 will not have health insurance when their BadgerCare plans end in January, open enrollment for federal plans does not end until the end of March.

Individuals were notified in late September that they might be affected, but will be sent official letters Nov. 23 to determine whether they will be affected or not, according to DHS.

“Our goal is to have uninterrupted coverage for members, so we are pushing for individuals to enroll by Dec. 15,” Smith said.

Smith also said the department has partnered with more than 1,500 groups to increase outreach.

“Critics continue to bring up policy debates and rehash decisions that have been made,” Smith said. “The bottom line is that we made fiscally responsible decisions to leverage the solutions that the federal government made available to states.”

But many, including David Riemer, a senior fellow at the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute, are still concerned about the timeline of the turnover in health care benefits.

According to the letter the institute sent to Walker’s office, the Affordable Care Act implementation plan will only achieve its goal of halving uninsured Wisconsin residents if 90 percent of those affected successfully transition into the new federal program. 

“The governor set a goal of insuring 224,600 more people by partially implementing the Affordable Care Act in Wisconsin,” Riemer said in a statement. “We thank him for committing to that shared goal, but we are also looking for assurances that Wisconsin is on track to meet the goal.”

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin also sent a letter Tuesday to Walker expressing concern about the short time between notifying affected families and the deadline for application under federal law.

In the letter, Baldwin suggests extending BadgerCare coverage to current enrollees or temporarily accepting the federal Medicaid expansion through March as alternatives to the risk of Wisconsinites being left without insurance.

While Baldwin said she commended the state government’s increased efforts to reach families affected by the changes, she said the timeline will still be an issue.

Leah Hunter, Baldwin’s spokesperson, said Walker’s choice to not take federal dollars to cover Wisconsin residents decreases how many residents will have insurance.

“Seventy-seven thousand Wisconsinites would have been covered by that expansion with the federal government paying 100 percent of the cost,” Hunter said in an email to The Badger Herald. “Instead, he chose a path that covers fewer people at a higher cost to taxpayers.”