Governor Scott Walker on Friday called for a special session of the Wisconsin legislature, to extend BadgerCare benefits until March 31st for recipients who were originally scheduled to lose that coverage on January 1st. It’s action necessitated by the catastrophic failures of the federal Obamacare health care exchange website, which has left thousands of state residents unable to complete the process of buying health care coverage.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released state-by-state numbers on last week. That showed only 877 Wisconsin residents were able to enroll in a program between October 1st and November 2nd. Absent an extension, approximately 77,000 residents would lose BadgerCare coverage by the end of the year.
“The federal government failed to get its website fully operational, and it is irresponsible to force some Wisconsinites to pay the price for the federal government’s failure,” Walker said in the announcement from his office. “I’m calling a special session of the Legislature to approve our plan extending the deadline for individuals moving to the federal exchange. We need to give people more time.” Walker also wants a three-month extension of the Health Insurance Risk-Sharing Plan (HIRSP) for some of the state’s most vulnerable high risk residents.
Walker initially announced his intention for the special session last week, at which time Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he supported the general idea of giving the Obama administration three more months to “get their act together.” Vos also indicated that was “incredibly skeptical” that could be accomplished. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said he would only support month-to-month extensions — not a full three-month delay.
Read: Walker calls special session (PDF)