Wisconsin Governor to Delay Moving People Off Medicaid

November 15, 2013

Responding to the troubled rollout of Obamacare, Gov. Scott Walker said Thursday he would delay for three months his plan to move more than 70,000 state residents out of state health coverage and into an online federal insurance market.

At a Capitol news conference, the Republican governor said he would call lawmakers in for a special legislative session in early December to pass the change and keep those 77,500 patients from losing their state BadgerCare Plus coverage in January before the federal insurance program is ready to accept them.

Walker said he wouldn't take any additional federal Medicaid money to keep the recipients on BadgerCare and instead would pay for the extra expense by delaying the roughly similar cost of adding a new group of more than 80,000 very-low-income adults to the state program.

"We're talking about real people's lives," Walker told reporters. "I'm not going to let the failures of the federal government bring down people who are caught between systems that just aren't working right now."

In addition, the governor said he would seek a three-month extension of the state's high-risk health coverage known as the Health Insurance Risk-Sharing Plan, which had been scheduled to end on Dec. 31. An existing surplus of roughly $14 million in that program would cover the state's share of the cost of the roughly 20,000-member plan through March 31, said Dan Schwartzer, deputy state insurance commissioner.

Walker's remarks came only hours after President Barack Obama announced that insurance companies can keep offering consumers plans that would otherwise be canceled under the federal Affordable Care Act.