UPDATE: Baldwin praises Walker's tweak to Medicaid date

UPDATED Thursday, January 16, 2014 --- 9:40 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Sen. Tammy Baldwin says she's pleased by Gov. Scott Walker's decision to postpone the date when poor residents will lose Medicaid coverage.

The state Legislature passed a bill Tuesday that Walker had requested. Some 77,000 residents just about the federal poverty level were scheduled to lose Medicaid coverage this month, but the bill allows them to keep coverage through March 31 if they apply before Feb. 1.

The Republican governor says the delay gives them more time to sign up for private insurance through the federal health insurance exchange.

Baldwin, a Democrat, said Thursday she's pleased with Walker's decision. She says Walker hasn't taken Wisconsin down the strongest health care path, but she's glad he's making sure the 77,000 low-income residents can transition into the insurance exchanges.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, January 14, 2014 --- 4:53 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Legislature has passed a bill affecting Medicaid coverage.

The bill relates to a three-month coverage delay Gov. Scott Walker requested, and the Legislature approved, last month. That pushed back from January until April when 77,000 people just above the federal poverty line will lose Medicaid coverage. It also pushed back by three months when 83,000 childless adults will begin receiving Medicaid.

Under the bill, anyone who qualifies for the BadgerCare Medicaid program could receive it through March 31 if they apply before Feb. 1. After that, if the applicant is above the federal poverty limit, they will be directed to seek federally subsidized private coverage through the online exchange instead.

The Senate passed the bill 21-11. The Assembly passed it on a voice vote later Tuesday afternoon.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, January 14, 2014 --- 3:22 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin state Senate has passed a bill affecting Medicaid coverage.

The bill passed Tuesday relates to a three-month coverage delay Gov. Scott Walker requested, and the Legislature approved, last month. That pushed back from January until April when 77,000 people just above the federal poverty line will lose Medicaid coverage. It also pushed back by three months when 83,000 childless adults will begin receiving Medicaid.

Under the bill, anyone who qualifies for the BadgerCare Medicaid program could receive it through March 31 if they apply before Feb. 1.

After that, if the applicant is above the federal poverty limit, they will be directed to seek federally subsidized private coverage through the online exchange instead.

The Assembly was also scheduled to pass the bill Tuesday.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, January 14, 2014 --- 9:35 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Legislature is scheduled to pass a largely technical bill affecting changes in Medicaid health care coverage.

The bill up for a vote in both the Senate and Assembly on Tuesday relates to a three-month delay Gov. Scott Walker requested, and the Legislature approved, last month. That affected about 77,000 people just above the federal poverty line who will lose Medicaid coverage and about 83,000 childless adults will enter into the program.

Under the bill, anyone who qualifies for the BadgerCare Medicaid program could receive it through March 31 if they apply before Feb. 1.

After that, if the applicant is above the federal poverty limit, they will be directed to seek coverage through the online exchange.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, January 8, 2014 --- 3:35 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Legislature's budget committee has approved the latest change to Wisconsin's Medicaid program sought by Gov. Scott Walker.

The Joint Finance Committee on Wednesday voted to approve the largely technical change that resulted from an agreement reached with federal health officials and Walker's administration.

The changes relate to a three-month delay Walker requested, and the Legislature approved, last month. That affected about 77,000 people just above the federal poverty line who will lose Medicaid coverage and about 83,000 childless adults will enter into the program.

Under the bill, anyone who qualifies for the BadgerCare Medicaid program could receive it through March 31 if they apply before Feb. 1.

After that, if the applicant is above the federal poverty limit, they will be directed to seek coverage through the online exchange.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Friday, December 20, 2013 --- 11:51 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill to delay extending Medicaid to tens of thousands of people for another three months.

Current state law expands Medicaid coverage in January to about 83,000 childless adults who earn less than the poverty level. It also pushes about 72,000 parents and caretakers who earn more than the poverty level off the program next month.

Walker said those people could find coverage through the federally run health insurance marketplace. But the governor last month proposed keeping people on Medicaid until April, citing problems with the launch of the federal exchange website. To pay for that the governor proposed delaying the childless adult expansion until April.

Republican lawmakers this month passed a bill executing Walker's plan. The governor quietly signed it Friday.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, December 19, 2013 --- 3:48 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin state Senate has passed Gov. Scott Walker's plan to delay Medicaid coverage for some while also keeping others on the program longer than anticipated.

The Republican-controlled Senate voted 18-12 along party lines Thursday to pass the bill.

The bill now heads to Walker, who is expected to sign it quickly.

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.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, December 19, 2013 --- 12:40 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin state Senate is debating Gov. Scott Walker's plan to delay Medicaid coverage for some while also keeping others on the program longer than anticipated.

The Senate was scheduled to vote Thursday on the bill.

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.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, December 19, 2013 ---- 5:56 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin state Senate plans to vote on Gov. 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.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, December 4, 2013 --- 1:43 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin state Assembly has passed a bill over Democratic objections that will affect health insurance coverage for more than 175,000 people.

The bill passed Wednesday was proposed by Gov. Scott Walker. He and Republican backers say it's needed because of problems people have had trying to enroll for private insurance through the federally run online marketplace.

The proposal would delay kicking 72,000 people off of the state's BadgerCare Plus Medicaid program for three months.

To pay for that extension, 83,000 childless adults who earn below the poverty line will have to wait three more months before they get Medicaid coverage.

The measure also allows about 20,000 people in a high risk insurance pool to keep their plans.

The bill passed on a 64-32 vote.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, December 4, 2013 --- 10:33 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin state Assembly is debating a proposal that affects health insurance coverage of more than 150,000 Medicaid recipients.

Gov. Scott Walker is proposing to give 72,000 BadgerCare Plus Medicaid recipients living above the poverty line an extra three months to receive the coverage before they are removed from the program. Assembly Republican leaders said Wednesday that the extra time, until April, is needed because of problems with the federal health insurance online exchange.

To pay for keeping that coverage in place for three months, Walker is also calling for delaying a start in Medicaid coverage for 83,000 childless adults. They were slated to start being covered in January, but that would be pushed back to April in the bill the Assembly is to vote on Wednesday.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, December 4, 2013 --- 4:50 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin state Assembly plans to vote on delays affecting health insurance coverage of more than 150,000 Medicaid recipients.

Gov. Scott Walker is proposing to give 72,000 BadgerCare Plus Medicaid recipients living above the poverty line an extra three months to receive the coverage before they are removed from the program. Walker says the extra time, until April, is needed because of problems with the federal health insurance online exchange.

To pay for keeping that coverage in place for three months, Walker is also calling for delaying a start in Medicaid coverage for 83,000 childless adults. They were slated to start being covered in January, but that would be pushed back to April in the bill the Assembly is to vote on Wednesday.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Monday, December 2, 2013 --- 3:14 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Legislature's Republican-controlled budget committee has approved Gov. Scott Walker's proposal that delays kicking 72,000 people off of the state's Medicaid program.

Walker would pay for continuing that coverage through March by delaying for an equal tie expanding Medicaid coverage for 83,000 childless adults earning below the poverty level.

Walker says those losing coverage need more time to sign up for private health insurance through the online exchange.

Democrats and health care advocates who testified earlier Monday urged Republicans to not delay coverage to the childless adults. Republicans rejected a Democratic proposal to accept federal money to pay for expanded Medicaid coverage.

The budget committee voted 11-2 to pass the bill, with all Republicans and one Democrat in support and two Democrats against.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press
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UPDATED Monday, December 2, 2013 --- 12:04 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Health care advocates are urging the Legislature's budget committee not to delay expanding Medicaid coverage to poor childless adults for three months.

The delay affecting about 83,000 people is part of Gov. Scott Walker's plan before the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee on Monday. Walker is proposing that delay to pay for another part of his proposal that would put off for three months kicking 72,000 current Medicaid recipients out of the program.

Those who testified Monday praised the delay in kicking people out of Medicaid, but said childless adults should get coverage starting in January as the budget originally called for.

The committee was to vote on the plan later Monday before the Assembly takes it up Wednesday. The Senate is expected to vote on it later this month.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Monday, December 2, 2013 --- 8:38 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Legislature's budget committee is holding a public hearing on Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to delay a health insurance enrollment deadline affecting nearly 100,000 people.

The committee is holding the hearing and plans to vote on the plan Monday. The Assembly is slated to take it up Wednesday.

The Republican Legislature earlier this year approved Walker's tightening of Medicaid eligibility, a move kicking 72,000 people out of the BadgerCare program as of Jan. 1. The state's high-risk insurance pool also is slated to disappear at the beginning of the year, leaving another roughly 20,000 people without coverage.

Walker decided to extend the enrollment deadline until March 31 in the wake of problems with the federally run website making it difficult for people to sign up for coverage.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, November 27, 2013 --- 10:06 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to delay for three months kicking about 72,000 off of Medicaid would actually save the state about $23 million because of the plan's other component -- delaying expanding coverage to poor childless adults.

The Legislature's budget committee is slated to take up the proposal on Monday. The Assembly is scheduled to vote on it Wednesday, with the Senate taking it up later in the month.

An analysis of the proposal by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau released Tuesday shows the estimated savings.

Health advocacy groups have been calling on Walker not to delay until April allowing an estimated 83,000 childless adults to enroll in the state's BadgerCare Medicaid program. Current law allows them into the program starting in January.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, November 19, 2013 --- 6:10 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Assembly plans to convene next month to take up bills that would extend health coverage for almost 100,000 people for another three months.

Gov. Scott Walker toughened Medicaid eligibility in the state budget, forcing 77,000 people off the rolls as of Jan. 1. The state's high-risk insurance pool also is slated to disappear on Jan. 1, leaving another 20,000 people without coverage.

Walker said those people could find insurance through the new federal online exchange. But the exchange has been fraught with problems. Walker called a special legislative session last week so lawmakers can pass bills extending coverage for the two groups through the end of March.

Assembly Majority Leader Bill Kramer said Tuesday the Assembly will convene on Dec. 4 to take up the bills.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, November 14, 2013 --- 4:25 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker called a special legislative session Thursday to extend the deadline for moving 77,000 people off Medicaid until April, saying they need more time to sign up for private insurance through the problematic online federal health care exchange.

Walker, a Republican, blasted the federal rollout during a news conference, calling the launch "abysmal" and saying he wants to make sure everyone who needs more time to find coverage gets it.

"We see very vividly it's not working," Walker said of the exchange. "We want to make sure nobody falls through the cracks."

Walker toughened Medicaid eligibility in the state budget, forcing 77,000 people off the state's BadgerCare plan and into the marketplace as of Jan. 1. The governor's administration gave everyone who would lose coverage until Dec. 15 to sign up for an alternative plan through the exchange to ensure uninterrupted coverage.

The exchange, a cornerstone of President Barack Obama's signature health care reform plan, offers people a chance to shop online for a private insurance plan. People who sign up for the plans can collect federal subsidies.

The website went live on Oct. 1 but it's been fraught with technical problems, making it difficult to sign up. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released state-by-state numbers on Wednesday that showed only 877 Wisconsin residents have been able to successfully enroll in a program between Oct. 1 and Nov. 2.

Walker said he wants the Legislature to pass a bill that would extend Medicaid coverage for those 77,000 people until April 1, the day the exchange is supposed to close. The governor also said he wants lawmakers to pass a bill that would allow about 20,000 people to continue to get insurance through what's known as a high-risk pool through April 1.

The pool -- funded by a mix of money from health care providers, insurance companies and premiums -- offers coverage for people with serious conditions who can't get it elsewhere. The federal reforms mandate insurance companies provide coverage regardless of a person's condition, eliminating the need for the pools. Wisconsin's pool ends Jan. 1.

Walker said both groups deserve more time to find private coverage through the exchange since the website doesn't work yet.

Walker said he wants to see the Legislature act on the bills by early December. The special session would begin when Walker issues an executive order setting the date. Walker didn't say when he would issue the order, and his spokesman said only that the order would be "forthcoming soon."

But Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, told The Associated Press he wasn't sure how much support Walker has for the proposals, saying the Legislature shouldn't have to "bail out" Democrats after they botched the exchange. He said he'd rather extend the deadline on a month-to-month basis.

"I'd just like to explore that first," he said. "I'm working with the governor to get there."

Walker brushed aside Fitzgerald's remarks during his news conference, calling them an "initial reaction." He said he doesn't think the state should be revisiting the problem on a monthly basis.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Burlington, said he believes most Republicans would support the delay.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Madison Democrat, sent Walker a letter Tuesday asking him to let the 77,000 stay on Medicaid through the end of March.

Baldwin issued a statement saying she was pleased Walker listened to her call to extend coverage but criticized him for not setting up a state-run exchange and refusing federal funds to expand Medicaid in the state.

Walker denied that he called the special session in response to Baldwin's letter, saying his administration had contemplated extending the deadline since it crafted the state budget depending on the exchange's performance.

He refused the federal Medicaid expansion because he didn't want to make people dependent on the federal government, a position he said the exchange rollout problems have validated.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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Posted Thursday, November 14, 2013 --- 3:00 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker called a special legislative session Thursday to extend the deadline for moving 77,000 people of Medicaid until April, saying they need more time to sign up for private insurance through the problem-plagued online federal health care exchange.

Walker, a Republican, toughened Medicaid eligibility in the state budget, saying those people could find private coverage through the exchange. He had given everyone who would lose coverage until Dec. 15 to sign up for an alternative plan through the exchange to ensure uninterrupted coverage on Jan. 1.

But the website has been fraught with problems, making it difficult to sign up. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released state-by-state numbers on Wednesday that showed only 877 Wisconsin residents have been able to successfully enroll in a program between Oct. 1, when the exchange opened, and Nov. 2.

Walker said at a news conference that by April, the federal government should have the exchange working properly.

"We see very vividly it's not working," Walker said of the exchange. "We want to make sure nobody falls through the cracks."

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, told The Associated Press he wasn't sure how much support Walker has in that chamber for the proposal, saying the Legislature shouldn't have to "bail out" Democrats for the problems of the health care overhaul launch.

He said he'd rather extend the deadline on a month-to-month basis.

"I'd just like to explore that first," he said. "I'm working with the governor to get there."

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Madison Democrat, sent Walker a letter on Tuesday asking him to let the 77,000 stay on Medicaid through the end of March, when the exchange closes for everyone. Her letter came a few days after advocacy groups wrote to Walker 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.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he believes a majority of Republicans will support Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to delay the health insurance enrollment deadline for about 77,000 people being kicked off Medicaid.

Walker originally planned to kick the people out of the BadgerCare Medicaid program at the end of the year. But on Thursday he reversed himself, saying he will give them until the end of March to sign up for subsidized private insurance sold through the federal health insurance exchange.

Walker proposed the delay due to problems with the federally run website that has led to few people being able to sign up.

Vos says he supports Walker's delay in general, but he would not want any further postponement of the deadline.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press


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