Assembly approves delay in state Medicaid changes
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[December 05, 2013]
By Brendan O'Brien
MILWAUKEE (Reuters) — Wisconsin
legislators on Wednesday approved delaying by three months a plan to
shift thousands of people from a state Medicaid program onto the federal
health insurance marketplace, which has been plagued by technical
The Republican-led Assembly voted 64-32 to approve a proposal that
would allow 72,000 people due to be shifted from Wisconsin's
BadgerCare Medicaid program on January 1 to stay on until the end of
Republican Governor Scott Walker sought the delay. The majority
Republican state Senate could vote on the delay later in December.
The healthcare.gov website for the Affordable Care Act, popularly
known as Obamacare, had a rocky start on October 1. Wisconsin
officials said only 877 residents were able to sign up for the
federal healthcare exchange that month.
Last weekend, federal officials said the site was performing
markedly better after a self-imposed deadline to fix the it.
Walker called a special session to consider the delay, which would
give the BadgerCare recipients more time to enroll in the federal
marketplace for health insurance.
Wisconsin was one of 36 states that chose not to create a state
exchange, instead relying on the federal government to create an
exchange where people can shop for health insurance.
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Walker's state budget signed in June tightened the income
qualifications for BadgerCare to 100 percent of the federal poverty
level, from 200 percent, pushing 72,000 people toward the federal
health insurance program.
At the same time, the plan expanded BadgerCare eligibility to about
83,000 childless adults who have household incomes less than 100
percent of the federal poverty level. The measure lawmakers are
considering in the special session would require those adults to
wait until April 1 to enroll in BadgerCare.
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by David Bailey, David
Gregorio and Dan Grebler)