Wis. Health Care Coverage Down


Advocates for health care in Wisconsin say census data released Wednesday indicates the need for full implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The Walker Administration opposes the law. One of law’s provisions is up to states: whether to expand Medicaid.

Wisconsin used to have more people with health coverage than any other state except Massachusetts. Now that is changing.

Sara Eskrich is a health care policy analyst with the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families. She points to census data showing 89 percent of Wisconsin residents have health insurance; in Iowa and Minnesota, even more people are covered. She says, “The thing is, a lot of states have been catching up with us. So, for years we were ranked right there on top with Massachusetts, but other states have been doing a good job so were closer to 7th these days.”

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

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

Some counties in Wisconsin are far worse than the state as a whole. This is evident from new census data, which looks at income and health coverage on a county-by-county basis. People who earn 138 percent of poverty or less would be eligible for Medicaid. For a family of four, this amounts to about $31,000 annually. Eskrich says, “A lot of rural counties in Wisconsin would benefit. The top ten counties at the highest uninsured rate for 138 percent and under the poverty level are pretty rural counties.”

Those counties include places like Florence, Clark and Walworth counties. However, census data also shows there are low-income people all across Wisconsin. Eskrich says if Medicaid eligibility is expanded, 200,000 people without health insurance could get Badgercare. The same number of people could get tax credits to buy insurance.

Governor Walker has said the state will not move ahead with health reform until after the presidential election. Mitt Romney has promised to repeal the law.