A state lawmaker hopes to eliminate a marriage penalty for disabled people who need health benefits.
The Wisconsin Medical Assistance program helps certain individuals, including the blind and disabled, with their healthcare, but there's a catch. State Representative Steve Wieckert ( pronounce ) (R-Appleton) says if that person gets married and the future spouse has more than 2-thousand dollars worth of assets, the disabled individual would lose those M-A healthcare benefits.
"So what would normally happen then is that individual decides well I can't afford to get married; I can't lose my health care, so I won't be able to get married. And that's a marriage penalty … that's a real marriage penalty. And it's very sad."
Wieckert says citizens with disabilities already have serious physical limitations put on their ability to enjoy life; the government shouldn't make it even worse. The Appleton Republican is looking for co-sponsorship on legislation that would remove that barrier.
"So we're creating a level playing field for these people so if they were blind before they got married — as a single individual and got married – they would still have the MA health care benefit."
Wieckert says his friend, a quadriplegic, brought this to his attention, saying he wants to get married, but his health care is literally saving his life and he cannot afford to lose it. Wieckert says marriage is something that should be encouraged, not discouraged. He will be introducing this bill on December 28th and is hopeful it will get passed before the end of this session in April.