BadgerCare Messaging

Say Yes to Filling the Holes in BadgerCare

Accepting new federal health care reform dollars will expand health care freedom, create jobs, and save money

The Issue: One of the most important ways the new health care reform law expands coverage is filling the gaping holes in state Medicaid programs (BadgerCare in Wisconsin) guaranteeing coverage to low income adults.  Currently, there are over 156,000 low income Wisconsinites on a waiting list for BadgerCare who are falling between the cracks.  However, the U.S. Supreme Court gave states the option of turning down the money.  Although a number of conservative Republican governors have said yes to the new Medicaid dollars, Gov. Scott Walker decided in February to reject the money and offer an alternative plan which forces 98,000 people off BadgerCare, costs over $100 million more, and will cover fewer people. The Legislature voted to support Walker’s plan and raised the cost to $149 million this budget alone. However, the decision is not final and Wisconsin can accept the money at any time.


Values Statement: People who lack access to stable and affordable health coverage do not have a fair shot at the American dream.  They face a constant threat of having their lives and careers devastated by health disasters that also become financial disasters. In the 21st Century you do not have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness if you cannot control your own health care decisions or have the peace of mind of knowing that health care will be there when you need it.


Belief Statement: The critical role of government is to step in and fill the gaps when the private market fails to provide equal economic and social opportunity. Filling the holes in BadgerCare is essential because the health insurance market has failed to provide low-income Wisconsinites with affordable health insurance options, and low-wage jobs are far less likely to include affordable coverage. On the other hand, Conservatives who oppose strengthening BadgerCare want to leave Wisconsinites who can’t afford essential medical care on their own.


Narrative: Siding with Tea Party extremists and special interests such as the big insurance companies, Scott Walker has done everything he can to sabotage health care reform.  Walker’s recent rejection of billions in federal Medicaid money, which forces low income Wisconsinites on to health exchanges that were designed for people with higher incomes, is yet another incident of playing politics with the health freedom and security of average Wisconsinites.


Proof Points:


  • Governor Walker’s alternative plan is a cruel hoax.  It will force 98,000 people off BadgerCare, many of whom make too little money to afford the new health care exchanges on which Walker assumes they will enroll.  Walker’s plan costs $149 million more in the current state budget to cover fewer people. In addition, Walker’s plan costs over 5 times more over the next 6 years, costing Wisconsin taxpayers (Non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau analysis).



  • If the Legislature reverses Walker’s decision and accepts the money, Wisconsin will get $12 billion dollars to fill the holes in BadgerCare over the over the next 10 years (Kaiser Family Foundation)


  • If Wisconsin accepts the new federal money it will extend BadgerCare to over 170,000 Wisconsinites who currently fall through the cracks in the program. Within 10 years 211,000 additional Wisconsinites will have access to BadgerCare (Legislative Fiscal Bureau, Kaiser Family Foundation).


  • There are over 158,000 Wisconsinites on the BadgerCare waiting list (WI Department of Health and Family Services).


  • The Medicaid (BadgerCare) provisions of the national health care reform law guarantee coverage to all citizens below 133% of the federal poverty level--$14,856 in annual income ($7.14 per hour) for a single individual and $20,123 ($9.67 per hour) for couples.  (Wisconsin Council on Children and Families).


  • This massive federal investment will also create jobs.  According to an independent analysis by Jack Norman commissioned by Citizen Action of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, the $12 billion in federal money for BadgerCare will generate a net of 10,500 new jobs.


  • Wisconsin hospitals would lose out on revenues as uninsured individuals continue to acquire ER bills and uncompensated costs, costs that would have been covered by BadgerCare. Hospitals will lose out on $3.7 billion in revenue over the next 10 years (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation).


  • These new jobs will especially benefit women. Medicaid spending currently creates over 65,000 jobs in Wisconsin’s health professions, 80% of which are held by women (National Women’s Law Center).


  • The Walker Administration has falsely suggested that filling the holes in BadgerCare would be very costly for the state (Wisconsin State Journal). According to the most authoritative national research, Wisconsin would actually save a total of at least $495 million over the next ten years by accepting the federal money to fill the holes in BadgerCare (Kaiser Family Foundation).


    • Wisconsin would save $248 million over the next ten years by accepting the increased Medicaid money because the federal government would pay over 90% of the costs of coverage for many current BadgerCare recipients for which the feds currently pay only 60% of the costs (Kaiser Family Foundation).


    • Wisconsin would also save an additional $247 million in the cost of uncompensated medical care because more people would have health coverage (Kaiser Family Foundation).


    • Not taking the money would be costly for Wisconsin business. According to a national study by Jackson Hewitt Tax Services, Walker’s decision to turn down the new Medicaid dollars will lead to a $36 million business tax increase in WI, due to fines charged to employers whose employees buy insurance on the new health insurance exchanges.



  • The Legislature voted to take Walker’s plan and add $32.5 million in payments to hospitals per year to make up for the cost of individuals coming into emergency rooms or otherwise unable to pay. In 2011 Wisconsin hospitals had over $1.2 billion in uncompensated care costs, the proposed "deal" from the legislature? A mere 3% of that. (Wisconsin Hospital Association yearly figures)


  • Walker claims that this federal Medicaid fundings future is somehow in doubt. That is a falsehood. For the first 3 years Medicaid is provided to cover new residents 100%, and after 3 years that tapers down to 90% permanently, which still will save Wisconsin millions as we currently spend 40% for the program. Medicaid, as automatic spending is as secure as Medicare is, unlike the $18 billion in federal funding that Walker uses in his budget that requires annual appropriations for programs like roads and education.


  • As of September 10th, 15 counties have taken a vote in favor of sending a message/resolution to the Walker administration calling on them to either accept the federal funds or allow the counties to access them instead. These counties are: Milwaukee, Jefferson, Dane, Iowa, Richland, Eau Claire, Manitowoc, Winnebago, Marathon, Lincoln, Oneida, Dunn, Wood, Clark and La Crosse. Many more are considering it.


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