Walker’s BadgerCare Plan Approved By Budget Committee

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The Joint Finance Committee approved Governor Scott Walker’s plan to shift thousands of people off BadgerCare and onto federal health exchanges.

The move would reject an expansion of Medicaid and the more than $600 million in federal funding that would have gone with it. State taxpayers would pay an extra $119 million compared to what they would have paid under the expansion, even though 85,000 Wisconsin residents would be pushed off of BadgerCare. They’d be eligible for federal health exchanges.

Democrats noted that a broad coalition of 40 groups, including the state’s hospital association, had been lobbying the legislature to take the Medicaid expansion. Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, said Republicans were on their own on this.

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“There’s nothing smart about what we’re doing here right now. This is what happens when you have ideology running your decisions and not basic common sense – to say nothing of math.”

Mason called the plan a hidden tax on poor people, saying they won’t be able to afford the copays associated with the federal health exchange, which could be as high as $2,000 a year for an individual. But Republicans said those payments were a bargain compared to what others were paying in private insurance.

Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills:

“People might not like having copayments; people might not like having to pay into the system of health care. But you know what? Life is changing. Health care is changing.”

Because health care providers expect the move could increase the number of uninsured residents they treat, Republicans added $30 million in additional state tax funding for hospitals that serve a high percentage of Medicaid patients. The proposal passed on a party line vote.

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