Thursday afternoon, Governor Walker announced that they would delay cutting 77,000+ citizens currently on BadgerCare until March 31st, providing an extra 3 months for these individuals to sign up for affordable healthcare through the new health marketplace, Healthcare.gov that is part of the Affordable Care Act. Additionally, Walker delayed the ending of the state's high-risk plan (HIRSP) until March 31st too. 25,000 individuals who had preexisting conditions and other health concerns, who have been often denied health insurance by traditional insurers, will now have more time to sign up for a health plan that can never discriminate against them for their preexisting health conditions.
This requires a special session of the legislature, which Walker expects to convene in late November. Advocates, legislators, hospitals and community groups all called on Walker to delay these cuts, including Citizen Action. We are glad that Walker finally listened to our calls.
It is worth mentioning that this turn of events did not need to be. Walker rejected the federal Medicaid funds for BadgerCare that would have covered more people and ended the BadgerCare waiting list, instead of cutting tens of thousands from the program. The call to accept the federal funds for BadgerCare was made by well over 250 Wisconsin organizations and can be overturned at any time! These federal funds never sunset and can be accepted moving forward. Hundreds of millions of federal dollars could enter Wisconsin, we could cover over 170,000 Wisconsinites instead of cutting 77,000 off the program.
While the Governor is in the habit of changing his mind, we hope that he might change it once more and accept the federal funds for BadgerCare. A reversal that other members of the GOP in other states, such as in Ohio & Pennsylvania, have already made.