Baldwin asks Walker to delay BadgerCare deadline
MADISON — U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin asked Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday to delay the state's health insurance enrollment deadline for Medicaid recipients who will be losing their BadgerCare coverage in January.
Baldwin, a Democrat, wrote a letter on behalf of the estimated 77,000 people expected to lose their Medicaid coverage. She told the Republican governor that more time was needed to get them signed up for subsidized private insurance sold through the online marketplace.
Wisconsin residents on BadgerCare have until Dec. 15 to sign up on the federal exchange in order to ensure uninterrupted health coverage on Jan. 1. But the website, healthcare.gov, has been plagued with problems, making it difficult for people to sign up.
Because of those problems, Baldwin said, Walker should allow people losing Medicaid coverage to remain on the program through the end of March.
"To me, this is a common sense solution that will ensure that individuals receiving BadgerCare today will not lose coverage on January 1, 2014," she wrote.
Walker's administration said last week that its goal was to get everyone affected signed up for private insurance by the Dec. 15 deadline. But on Tuesday, Walker spokesman Tom Evenson didn't rule out changing the sign-up deadline, saying the governor continues to review the timeline.
Baldwin also asked Walker to reverse a previous decision not to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid to everyone earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Instead, Walker chose to shift the 77,000 parents off Medicaid and allow about 82,000 childless adults earning less than the poverty level to enroll in Medicaid.
Baldwin suggested that Walker expand BadgerCare through March 31, which would provide the state with a 100 percent federal match for all newly eligible BadgerCare enrollees
The senator's letter came a few days after a number of advocacy groups wrote to the governor expressing concern about the Dec. 15 deadline. They asked Walker to spell out his contingency plans if enrollment on the exchange continues to be difficult.