The state is no longer among the nation’s leaders for having the lowest rates of uninsured children. A report released by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families shows the state dropped from having the 6th lowest percentage of uninsured kids in 2008 to 16th in 2014.
WCCF research director Jon Peacock attributed much of the drop to changes in the state’s BadgerCare program in 2014, which forced adults above the poverty level off the program and resulted in about 15,000 children losing their coverage. Also playing a role was the state’s decision to reject federal funding to expand its Medicaid programs. “Other states have been using the federal healthcare reform law to significantly improve their coverage of kids, and they’ve been catching up with us…and in many cases overtaking Wisconsin.”
Peacock said the state should do a better job of helping parents enroll their kids in BadgerCare, even if the parents do not qualify. He added the state could also save money, by participating in the expanded federal Medicaid program.
Responding to the report, state Department of Health Services spokeswoman Elizabeth Goodsitt noted that the reforms enacted in 2014 “ensure everyone living in poverty has access to health care through Medicaid while protecting taxpayers from uncertain federal funding. Everyone living in poverty has access to health care through Medicaid. We preserved it as a safety net for our state’s neediest. Everyone above that level was transitioned into the marketplace and has the choice to purchase a health care plan through the exchange or through the private market.”
Peacock noted that the state is still below the national average of about six percent. “We’re not doing bad, but we could be doing a lot better…and we still have about 58,000 uninsured kids which is simply too many.”
Contributed by WHBY