Advocacy Groups and Unions Letter to Governor Urging Budget Vetoes to Secure BadgerCare Expansion.
June 23, 2023
Governor Tony Evers
115 East State Street
Madison, WI 53707
Dear Governor Evers,
Wisconsin’s failure to adopt BadgerCare Expansion as authorized under the Affordable Care Act is leaving a dangerous health affordability gap for people living just above the poverty line. We, the undersigned, urge you to leverage your powerful veto pen to push the legislature to adopt full BadgerCare expansion and expand access to quality, affordable health care for 90,000 Wisconsinites.
Access to health care should not be a partisan issue. Since the Legislature first rejected the expansion in 2013, state after state, including many red states such as Missouri and Utah/Idaho, have accepted it, leaving Wisconsin as one of only 10 states without BadgerCare Expansion. Most recently North Carolina, a state like Wisconsin with a Democratic Governor and a supermajority Republican Legislature, accepted the expansion with strong bipartisan support.
The coverage gap affects people from every walk of life and every region and every legislative district of the state, but it disproportionately impacts people of color and women who have lower incomes are more likely to work in jobs which do not provide good employer-based coverage.
The coverage gap is forcing many Wisconsinites to choose between health care coverage and work. As the Joint Finance Committee heard in testimony during their regional public hearings, many with chronic conditions are choosing to impoverish themselves to gain access to health care. Child care workers and home care workers turning down hours in fields with critical workforce shortages. In some cases people are forced to divorce their spouses in order to qualify themselves for BadgerCare. People who are diagnosed with chronic and life threatening conditions such as cancer who are unable to work are forced to impoverish themselves to get access to treatment.
The coverage gap in Wisconsin is even more damaging due to the disruptive effect of the ending of the COVID public emergency. Some estimate 300,000 Wisconites will lose BadgerCare when they are required to reestablish eligibility. Wisconsin’s artificially low income eligibility cap for BadgerCare is making this situation worse.
Of the 10 states that are still holding out on the expansion, Wisconsin is the only one that is paying more to cover fewer people. Because of the way Wisconsin rejected the federal dollars, Wisconsin in the next two year budget not only loses $2.2 billion in federal dollars to expand
BadgerCare eligibility, it also pays a premium of $1.6 billion in General Purpose Revenue which could provide sustainable funding for many other critical priorities which the Legislature claims we cannot afford.
On May 2, the Joint Finance Committee again rejected BadgerCare Expansion without any robust debate on the issue, ignoring overwhelming public support (as measured in public opinion polls) for BadgerCare Expansion, and the testimony of directly impacted Wisconites they heard in public hearings.
Enough is Enough. We know BadgerCare Expansion is one of your top priorities, and that you have tried very hard to work cooperatively with the Legislature to achieve it. As the Legislature is intent on using its full budget writing power without regard to public opinion and the public interest, we urge you to fully wield the tremendous leverage you have in the process by utilizing the strongest veto power in the United States.
This does not necessarily mean vetoing the entire budget; you have the leverage to block many of the Legislature’s top priorities until they will negotiate reasonably over your top priorities, including BadgerCare Expansion. You recently drew a line in the sand on the Legislature’s shared revenue plan, and earlier in the year on a flat tax, signaling clearly that you would veto the proposals if they reach your desk. We urge you to do the same on BadgerCare Expansion.
- Citizen Action of Wisconsin
- Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice
- Kids Forward
- Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association
- Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools
- Madison-area Urban Ministry, Inc. DBA JustDane
- AFT-W Local 4848
- AFT Local 212
- Milwaukee Turners
- 9to5 Wisconsin
- Lake Edge United Church of Christ
- Wisconsin Physicians for a National Health Plan
- Our Wisconsin Revolution
- Souls to the Polls