Changes to BadgerCare for Childless Adults
The committee largely approved the Governor’s proposed changes to BadgerCare for childless adults along a party-line vote. The Governor’s proposal would allow the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) to request approval from the federal government to make the following changes for any childless adult on the program:
- Require childless adults at or below the poverty line to pay monthly premiums as determined by DHS
- Require all such enrollees be subject to a health risk assessment
- Impose even higher premiums on enrollees who engage in behaviors that increase their health risks, as determined by the health risk assessment.
- Limit lifetime eligibility to no more than 48 months.
- Require all childless adults on the program to take a drug screening assessment and, if indicated, a drug test.
Rejection of Federal Medicaid Expansion
The committee also voted along party lines to reject a motion by the committee’s Democrats to accept federal funding to expand BadgerCare eligibility to childless adults earning between 100-138% of the federal poverty line (FPL). Updated projections from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimated that the amount of money the state could save if Wisconsin implemented full Medicaid expansion increased from previous estimates. The LFB previously estimated that accepting full Medicaid expansion would save the state $345 million. The new estimates increased the projected savings to $365 million. As a result of the committee’s decision, tens of thousands of Wisconsinites will still find themselves in a health care coverage gap and the state will have to make hundreds of millions of dollars of budget cuts to other vital public institutions, such as the cuts proposed by the Governor to the University of Wisconsin System.
Reject the Governor’s Proposed Changes to the SeniorCare Prescription Drug Program
The JFC did fully reject the Governor’s proposed changes to the SeniorCare prescription drug program, which would have required eligible seniors to first sign up for the more expensive Medicare Part D prescription drug program. The LFB estimated that many low-income seniors who fall into a relatively likely scenario would pay about $188 a year more for their prescription drugs if the Governor’s proposed changes were approved.
The committee’s unanimous rejection of the Governor’s SeniorCare proposals is likely good news for the thousands of women who rely on the program. For more information about how the Governor’s proposal would have affected women in Wisconsin, please see our SeniorCare issue page and our blog post on the topic.
Other Budget Health Care Updates
The JFC made many other important decisions regarding health care policy. We will provide more information regarding these changes in subsequent posts.