Obama’s Health Secretary encourages Wisconsinites to enroll in federal health care exchanges

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius visited Milwaukee Friday to encourage residents to sign up for health insurance with the federal exchange website.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announced Thursday that he would seek to expand the coverage of BadgerCare Plus, the state’s Medicaid system, three months in order to make up for the rocky rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

Sebelius emphasized that the provision for the expansion of BadgerCare was paid for in the federal budget. Earlier this year, Walker declined federal funds to expand BadgerCare.

“There is $10 billion of federal funding that would come into Wisconsin over the next 10 years if the governor and Legislature chose to expand Medicaid,” Sebelius said in the press conference.

Sebelius addressed the currently low enrollment numbers, stressing the purchase of insurance may be a daunting task for people who have not been covered in the past. Roughly 10 percent of Wisconsin residents do not have health insurance, according to Sebelius. Through the exchanges residents can choose from 259 plans issued by 13 different companies.

“This isn’t buying a toaster, it is figuring out if your doctor is in the health plan that you want,” Sebelius said.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele joined Sebelius in promoting the exchanges. Abele encouraged the public to remain positive.

He said, “At the end of the day, people are getting enrolled, and that’s what matters.”

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