State seeks feedback on BadgerCare expansion

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Gazette staff
Thursday, November 30, 2017

JANESVILLE—The Wisconsin Department of Health Services will field public comments in Janesville on Tuesday on a state request for an extension of the BadgerCare waiver for some low-income residents.

The extension the state is requesting means people who are 19 to 64 years old, with no children and incomes below the federal poverty level, would continue to be offered federal Medicaid coverage through the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, according to a news release from state Sen. Janis Ringhand, D-Evansville.

The public comment session will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Pontiac Convention Center, 2809 N. Pontiac Drive.

Gov. Scott Walker is among several governors who have opted not to accept a federal Medicaid expansion, which in Wisconsin's case would come through the state's taxpayer-funded BadgerCare health care program.

State Democratic lawmakers, Ringhand included, had pushed for the state to accept the expansion of BadgerCare vouchers.

In her statement, Ringhand said Wisconsin has about 79,000 residents who would be eligible for BadgerCare waivers through an expansion. She said the state would show financial “common sense” by allowing an expansion paid for by the federal government.

Walker has declined to put a Medicaid expansion into the state's budget since 2013.

In the past, he has argued the state could get saddled with the high costs of a growing number of Medicaid enrollees if the federal government didn't fulfill its promises to pay for most of the long-term and short-term costs.

Ringhand claims that by not having an expansion here, the state has missed out on federal money that could have returned to Wisconsin. She said it has cost the state “$1 billion” so far, and $286 million during the current state budget.

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