Finance Committee Approves Federally Required Changes to BadgerCare Reforms

MacIver News Service | January 8, 2014

[Madison, Wisc…] The Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) approved a bill on Wednesday that will make more adjustments to the BadgerCare reforms set forth in the budget after continued problems with the launch of Obamacare.

The most recent state budget reformed BadgerCare to eliminate the waiting list and cover everyone under 100 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). Those above 100 percent would transition to the Obamacare exchange. However, after a disastrous rollout of the website, Governor Scott Walker called for a special session to delay the reforms three months. The legislature approved that change mid-December.

After Wisconsin made changes to its Medicaid program to account for the failures of the federal government, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) required the state to make more adjustments. In order to get the federal government to approve the three-month delay, the state’s Department of Health Services agreed to new changes with CMS.

The biggest change will allow parents and caregivers from 100 to 200 percent of the poverty level to access Wisconsin’s Medicaid program from February 1st to March 31st as long as they apply prior by January 31st.

After February 1st, eligibility will also be based on federally determined household income. Federal household income is defined as, “the sum of the modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of every individual in the household, minus an amount equivalent to five percentage points of the FPL for the applicable family size.”

DHS Secretary Kitty Rhoades told the legislature in a December 30th letter that these changes would be required to implement the BadgerCare reforms.

“This technical modification will allow Wisconsin to implement the entitlement reforms envisioned by the state budget on February 1, 2014 instead of April 1, 2014,” Rhoades wrote in the letter. “As such, a technical bill will be required to bring Wisconsin statutes and the agreement between Wisconsin and CMS into compliance.”

Both the Assembly and the Senate will need to pass the bill before February 1st to be in compliance with the federal requirement.