, , , ,

Republicans OK Possible BadgerCare Limits, Push Back On SeniorCare Changes

Both Proposals Came From Governor's Office

Prescription drugs
Robert S. Donovan (CC-BY-NC)

Republicans on the Legislature’s budget committee took on two substantial health care issues Thursday, rejecting a plan to phase out the SeniorCare prescription drug program while approving a measure to explore limiting how long people can be on the state Medicaid system.

Walker’s budget would have required SeniorCare recipients to sign up for Medicare Part D. Budget committee co-chairman Rep. John Nygren said members of the public made it clear they opposed that move.

“I think it was the complication level of doing it for seniors. I mean this is something they have grown to expect. They understand it. It’s a very simple program,” Nygren said.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Republicans also left SeniorCare premiums untouched.

Milton Democrat Rep. Andy Jorgensen led a petition drive to preserve SeniorCare. He called Thursday’s vote a big win for seniors.

“This is something that is so common-sense, I was so shocked that we were even here in the first place, trying to kill SeniorCare,” said Jorgensen. “So this is a good thing today.”

Preserving SeniorCare will cost the state roughly $15 million more over two years than the governor’s plan.

Meanwhile, GOP lawmakers did go along with another Walker proposal that would let the state pursue a four-year limit on BadgerCare for adults without children. It was among many measures Republicans approved that committee co-chairwoman Sen. Alberta Darling said were aimed at controlling Medicaid’s costs.

“What we have to do is — what I think the department is doing in this budget and the governor is doing and we’re doingis looking at reform, because the cost is unsustainable,” Darling said.

But Madison Democrat Rep. Chris Taylor said time limits could be scary for some BadgerCare recipients.

“We should make sure what we’re talking about here — that we’re not leaving people that have life-threatening, debilitating diseases — we’re not kicking them off their health care that could save their lives,” Taylor said.

The federal government would need to sign off on the time limits, something it’s never done for Wisconsin or any other state.