MADISON (WKOW) -- The full state legislature has granted Governor Walker's request to delay changes to the Wisconsin's Medicaid eligibility requirements until April 1st, due to what he calls the failed rollout of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The Senate approved the Assembly version of the Medicaid delay bill Thursday afternoon. It will help people who were set to lose their BadgerCare coverage at the end of the month, but harm others who were hoping to get the same coverage at that time.
63 year-old cancer survivor Kathy Federman says she was relying on the legislature's original plan to allow childless adults like her to obtain BadgerCare benefits January 1st.
"I don't know what to do, I don't know where to go," Federman told reporters at a press conference held by Senate Democrats. "I have not been even able to go for any cancer follow-up treatments because I cannot afford it."
Senate Democrats say the state doesn't have to make people like Kathy wait for benefits. They offered an amendment to avoid that.
"This is an acceptance of Medicaid expansion," said Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee). "This is an acceptance to make sure our citizens have the best coverage, while saving the most taxpayer dollars."
But Senate Republicans followed the Assembly's lead, refusing to accept expanded federal Medicaid dollars available under ACA and blaming President Obama for the delay.
"We're here on the floor, because of the initial startup failures," said Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), referring to the troubled rollout of healthcare.gov.
"The issue really, truly isn't the Affordable Care Act. At the end of the day, the issue is the Medicaid money that's available to the states," said Sen. John Erpenbach (D-Middleton).
While the delay means 83,000 people like Kathy Federman will have to wait until April 1st to get BadgerCare coverage, another 77,000 people - who have kids and live just above the poverty line - will be able to stay on their BadgerCare insurance an extra three months. The Governor's goal was to give that population more time to access private insurance through the federal marketplace.
This will be the last bill approved by the state legislature in 2013. Neither the Assembly nor the Senate will come back to the floor until January 14th.
MADISON (WKOW) -- The Wisconsin state Senate plans to vote on Governor Scott Walker's plan to delay Medicaid coverage for some while also keeping others on the program longer than anticipated.
The Senate's scheduled vote Thursday leaves little time to notify those affected by the changes.
The proposal delays until April the removal of an estimated 72,000 people who earn above poverty level from the state's BadgerCare Medicaid program. Walker says he wanted to give them more time to sign up for private coverage on the federal online insurance marketplace which was beset with problems when it launched in October.
To pay for keeping them on the program longer, the plan also delays extending Medicaid to 83,000 childless adults who currently don't have coverage.
Democrats have criticized that part of the plan.