July 31, 2014

Health care advocates bring concerns to Walker

Gov. Walker in Wausau PHOTO: WSAU

Gov. Walker in Wausau PHOTO: WSAU

A coalition of heath care advocates has requested an explanation from Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, on what will happen to 77,000 adults who are being shifted off Medicaid at year’s end if those people are not able to get coverage by then on the new federal health insurance exchange. That’s according to a story from the Wisconsin State Journal on Friday.

Walker said in February that adults who make more than the poverty level but who are participating in the state’s Medicaid program, known as BadgerCare, will have to switch to insurance through the federal heath care exchange by January 1st. The state notified 77,000 people in late September that they might be affected, although letters verifying that will not be mailed until November 23rd. That’s when the state expects to be ready to use new federal criteria to determine eligibility.

People are required to enroll through the federal exchange by December 15th in order to have health coverage by January 1st, but the glitch-plagued website has hampered their ability to do so. Federal officials have given assurances that the website is improving and will work smoothly by November 30.

The State Journal reports that the letter was sent by six groups: Community Advocates Public Policy Institute, Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, Mental Health America of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association, Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health and ABC for Health.

“We are concerned that this short window does not allow enough time for all 77,000 custodial parents who are losing BadgerCare eligibility to complete the process of enrolling in qualified health plans via the marketplace,” the letter said. It was delivered to Walker on Thursday.

Claire Smith, spokeswoman for the State Department of Health Services spokeswoman Claire Smith said the governor’s plan for January 1st remains in effect. “We made fiscally responsible decisions to leverage the solutions that the federal government made available to states,” she told the State Journal.