The number of Wisconsin residents without health insurance saw a big drop in the past two years – although advocates say the state still has a large population of uninsured residents.
Figures released by U.S. Census Bureau on Tuesday show about 323,000 Wisconsin residents still lack any type of health insurance coverage. The numbers reflect a drop in the state’s uninsured rate of about 3.7 percent between 2013 and 2015, with nearly more 200,000 people obtaining some level of coverage. Nationally, the uninsured rate dropped by 5.1 percent during the same time period.
Wisconsin Council on Children and Families research director Jon Peacock said the state’s progress is a “good start,” but argues more needs to be done to get people covered. “It’s still too many. We need to take some additional steps to get that down even further,” he argued.
Peacock said steps the state can take include lifting some of the administrative barriers that keep thousands of low-income resident from enrolling in BadgerCare, along with accepting federal funding to expand state Medicaid programs. Both of those options face some challenges though, with Governor Scott Walker and Republicans in the Legislature strongly opposed to using federal funds to expand state programs.
Still, Peacock believes GOP positions may start to soften in the coming years. “It’s not a slam dunk, that’s for sure…but sooner or later state policy makers are going to see that the Affordable Care Act is here to stay and that the states that have expanded their Medicaid programs have made a much larger dent in their uninsured population.”