Baldwin Wants Special Enrollment Period On Exchange For Those Who Lost BadgerCare

Two-Thirds Of People Removed From BadgerCare Rolls Did Not Sign Up During Regular Enrollment Period

Sen. Tammy Baldwin. Photo: Senate Democrats (CC-BY).

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is asking the federal government to allow more time for people who stopped receiving BadgerCare coverage to sign up for private insurance sold on the federal exchange.

Baldwin’s call for a special enrollment period, which was made in a letter to federal health officials, comes after she has repeatedly criticized Gov. Scott Walker’s decision to decline federal Medicaid funding and instead offer Badgercare to the very poor, sending those above the poverty level to the exchange.

Walker insists that the change enables everyone in Wisconsin to have insurance, without a coverage gap.

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“We are the only state in America that doesn’t have an insurance gap in states that didn’t take the Medicaid expansion. And I think that fulfilled our goal all along,” said Walker.

While Walker’s assertion is technically true, data from the state’s Health Services Department indicates that only about one-third of the people removed from BadgerCare rolls signed up on the exchange.

David Riemer, a senior fellow at Community Advocates Public Policy Institute, pointed out that the Walker administration incorrectly estimated 90 percent of those kicked off BadgerCare would get private insurance.

“The governor had promised that virtually everybody who was removed from BadgerCare would end up getting covered,” said Riemer. “And these are pretty low-income people, people just above the poverty line. They likely don’t have an employer who is providing them with health insurance. It stands to reason the great majority of them are uninsured.”

Reimer and Baldwin also say the governor should reconsider the decision to forego federal funds to further expand Medicaid. The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates that not doing so will cost Wisconsin taxpayer upwards of $261 million in the next state budget.

Correction: This story originally said the name of the senior fellow at Community Advocates Public Policy Institute was David Reimer. His name is actually David Riemer.

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