Gov. Scott Walker is calling a special session of the Legislature to change the timeline for moving 77,000 people off BadgerCare.
When Walker tightened BadgerCare eligibility in his budget, that decision relied on the federal health care exchange being operational so people could buy private insurance instead. The exchange is working, but not well: Only 877 people in the whole state have been able to sign up because of computer problems with the federal website.
Walker is counting on more than 70,000 BadgerCare recipients being able to sign up. He said he wants legislators to approve a change in law that would temporarily keep BadgerCare as is through March.
“We're talking about real people's lives,” said Walker. “I'm not going to let failures of federal government bring down people who are caught in-between systems that just aren't working right now.”
Several Democrats, including U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett earlier asked Walker to delay the BadgerCare changes. Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said he’d prefer a shorter delay in moving people off BadgerCare. Walker said by waiting, the federal exchange should be fixed by April.
“While I'm sure there will be a spirited debate that will go far beyond my proposals when these measures come up in special session. I think people in state should have confidence in knowing it is my firm belief that these bills will both pass,” said Walker.
In addition to extending the deadline for BadgerCare changes, Walker also wants to continue the state's High Risk Insurance Plan until the federal exchange is working better.