Joint Finance Rejects Federal Expansion of Medicaid, Those Above Poverty Line Stay Eligible for BadgerCare until Exchanges are Setup

MacIver News Service | June 4, 2013

[Madison, Wisc…] The State of Wisconsin will spend an additional $32.2 million over the next two years to make sure no one is forced off of BadgerCare before the Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges are up and running, according to a plan approved by the Joint Committee on Finance Tuesday.

Governor Walker’s initial proposal involved offering Medicaid coverage to all childless adults, who make up to 100 percent of the federal poverty line.  Meanwhile, childless adults above the poverty line currently on Medicaid would be transitioned to the health insurance exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act.

However, many lawmakers expressed doubt that the health insurance exchanges will be ready on January 1, 2014 as required under Obamacare. .  That’s why JFC voted to extend coverage for those above 100 percent of the poverty level until the exchanges are fully setup.

The motion that JFC passed will “Allow parents and caretaker relatives whose family income does not exceed 200 percent of the federal poverty level and who would otherwise be eligible for standard plan benefits under BadgerCare Plus to receive those benefits.”

Democrats on the Committee wanted to expand Medicaid to include everyone up to 133 percent of poverty, which is what the planned expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare calls for.

The federal expansion of Medicaid would have cost the state an estimated $3.39 billion over the next seven years, but the federal government has promised to contribute about $3.25 billion of that amount.

Even though the federal government is $16 trillion in debt, the federal government pledges to pay the total cost of a state’s medicaid expansion for the first three years under Obamacare.  Democrats on the Committee argued that this 100% reimbursement rate made the acceptance of the Obamacare medicaid expansion the best deal for the current budget.  They strongly opposed the idea of transitioning anyone to the health insurance exchanges set up by Obamacare.

“Unfortunately people are going to die because they just can’t afford this more costly insurance,” Senator Bob Wirch (D-Pleasant Prairie) said of the Governor’s plan to transition childless adults to the federal health insurance exchange.

Republicans on the Committee responded to Wirch saying that individuals at 100-133 percent of the poverty level would be able to access insurance plans with copays as little as $6 per week.

Democrats proposed increasing Medical Assistance spending by $578 million, which would also have included accepting the federal government’s offer.  That was defeated on a 4-12 vote.

The Republicans plan totaled about $204 million in additional spending.  That plan passed 12-4.