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|Walker Official Claims BadgerCare Cuts Will not Deny Anyone Health Coverage|
|Health & Lifestyle|
|Written by Citizen Action of Wisconsin|
|Wednesday, 14 December 2011 17:06|
MILWAUKEE - In a column published in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith makes a sweeping assertion that the Walker Administration’s slashing cuts to BadgerCare will not cause anyone to lose affordable health coverage. “Every low-income Wisconsin citizen in the affected groups will have access to affordable health coverage,” Smith claims. The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau has estimated that nearly 65,000 Wisconsinites, including 29,000 children, will lose BadgerCare if the Walker Administrations BadgerCare proposal is approved in its entirety by the federal government.
“Secretary Smith’s sweeping assertion that forcing 65,000 children, parents, and adults off of BadgerCare will not deny anyone access to affordable health coverage is astounding,” said Robert Kraig. “Smith’s statement is further proof that the Walker Administration will say absolutely anything, no matter how implausible, to defend its policies.”
The evidence Secretary Smith provides in his column does not even come close to demonstrating his claim. In his column, Secretary Smith uses highly questionable reasoning to reach this highly unlikely conclusion.
First, Secretary Smith asserts that the Walker Administration’s proposal to bump nearly 28,000 people off of BadgerCare who have access to employer-based insurance, where the premium is less than 9.5% of income, does not deny access to affordable coverage. The fact that Smith has decided to define this as “affordable” for low income individuals and families does not make it so. In fact, when asked at a public forum October whether the Administration had done an analysis of whether this level of premium was actually affordable for low-income individuals and families on BadgerCare, Secretary Smith conceded that they had not done so. In addition, the premium is only a portion of health care costs, as employer based policies in Wisconsin often only cover the cost of 60-70% of medical claims.
Second, Secretary Smith claims that the nearly 2,500 who will lose BadgerCare because of changes in the definition of household income will have access to affordable coverage. The change Smith is referring to counts income from non-related individuals living in the same household. No data or evidence is provided that these individuals and families will have access to affordable coverage.
Third, Secretary Smith says that about 6,700 individuals who will lose coverage immediately because they have edged above 200% of the federal poverty level will have access to affordable coverage, again offering no data or evidence. This provision will cause individuals and families who have just improved their economic status to lose their BadgerCare coverage without a transitional period.
Fourth, Secretary Smith claims 2,900 young adults who are forced off BadgerCare will have access to coverage on their parents’ policies. Yet there is no guarantee that all parents will take the necessary steps to enroll their adult children onto their health insurance policies, and many of these policies have very limited open enrollment periods.