Many Enrolling without discrimination for first time, but coverage gap impacting many across state. County specific numbers revealed.
Citizen Action of Wisconsin and Representative Melissa Sargent held a media conference call (audio available here) to release a memo by the Legislature’s Fiscal Bureau showing the impact federal Medicaid funds from the Affordable Care Act on each county. While Governor Walker rejected these federal funds for BadgerCare, the state can accept them at any time. Additionally, Representative Sargent proposed legislation last month that would allow counties to accept the federal funding themselves. So far, 19 counties have already passed resolutions in support of accepting the available federal Medicaid funding.
The memo from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) quantifies the number of people who would be covered and the dollars that would come in for each Wisconsin county. It shows a total of 84,700 statewide who make between 100-133% of the federal poverty line, and therefore are losing out on enhanced Medicaid funding under the Affordable Care Act due to the Governor’s decision. These enhanced Medicaid funds represent $2.44 billion in federal funds that would have entered these local economies.
Additionally, the LFB methodology reveals the county breakdown of the 83,000 Wisconsinites under the poverty line who currently, because of the Legislature’s actions in December, are barred from accessing BadgerCare until April 1st. This broken promise creates hazardous and risky scenarios for thousands who need access to quality affordable care.
“As we enter 2014 Wisconsinites are experiencing both major advances and challenges in access to health care coverage,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “For the first time, many Wisconsinites are exercising a new freedom to enroll in the health care coverage of their choice, without facing any questions about preexisting conditions. On the other hand, 83,000 Wisconsinites who were promised health care on January 1 are being forced to go dangerously without coverage for 3 months because of political decisions made by Governor Walker and conservatives in the Legislature.”
“There are 19 counties already that have voted to tell the state to take these enhanced federal Medicaid funds. We can take these funds at any time, do what is right for the citizens of Wisconsin,” said Melissa Sargent, State Representative and Dane County Board Human Services Chair. “Let counties choose. Give them the power. They have the chance to help their citizens and jump-start their economies with available federal funds. If they want to take the funding, we should create that opportunity.”
The call also included citizens from around the state with stories of seeking health coverage.
“In 2009 I received word from my insurance company that I was going to be dropped from my coverage I’ve had for years because of a heart issue, I was shut out of the private market” said Scott Trindl, retired small business owner from Waukesha who's struggled with health coverage. “I’ve successfully signed up on Healthcare.gov, I had a lot of private plans to choose from, and I’m paying less per month. I’m no longer limited thanks to the Affordable Care Act”
“I’m a 25 year cancer survivor, I have not been able to get health insurance because of this preexisting condition, said Remy Ceci from Pepin. “I went to Healthcare.gov, looking forward to no longer being denied. I was approved to sign up for BadgerCare, and then was told by the state that now despite this promise of coverage I must wait even longer. It didn’t need to be this way if the state just took the Medicaid funds I could have had coverage by now.”