State lawmakers are set to begin a special session today, with a public hearing on a bill that would delay several changes in Wisconsin’s BadgerCare program. Members of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee plan to take public testimony on the proposal, and will then vote on whether to forward the bill to the full Legislature.
The legislation, offered in mid-November by Governor Scott Walker, would stop several changes in BadgerCare from taking effect at the end of this month. It would allow 77,000 adults living above the federal poverty line to keep their state Medicaid coverage through March, while also delaying the opening of the program to about 83,000 adults living below the federal poverty line.
Adults living above the federal poverty line were supposed to be removed from BadgerCare at the end of the month, under changes included in the state budget that was passed by the Legislature over the summer. Those having their BadgerCare enrollment dropped will have to purchase coverage through the federal health care exchange, but ongoing technical problems with that system have prevented many of them from being able to shop for a provider. Delaying the changes in BadgerCare is expected to give those individuals more time to sign up for new health coverage, while also saving the state about $23 million.
Following today’s hearing, the state Assembly is scheduled to take up the special session bill on Wednesday. The state Senate is expected to act on the proposal later this month.