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Sunday, September 25, 2022

Report shows Wisconsin will operate without health care coverage gap after Affordable Care Act implementation

Wisconsin will be the only state relying on the federal health care exchange to not have a coverage gap when the Affordable Care Act-mandated health care coverage begins this January, according to a Kaiser Family report.

Gov. Scott Walker and state Department of Health Services Secretary Kitty Rhoades used the report to reinforce Walker’s controversial decision last year to leave ACA implementation to the federal government.

Walker shuffled Medicaid, or BadgerCare, coverage in his state budget to include all state citizens living below the federal poverty level, some of whom were not covered under the previous system.

Walker and Rhoades said the absence of a coverage gap shows BadgerCare is returning to its original purpose, covering the poorest people in the state. A coverage gap occurs when citizens do not qualify for Medicaid, but also cannot afford to buy mandated insurance even with federal subsidies.

“For the first time in Wisconsin’s history, all adults living in poverty will have access to the same level of benefits through Wisconsin’s Medicaid program,” Rhoades said in a statement. “These reforms ensure long-term sustainability and predictability for a program that serves those who are most in need in our state as well as protect Wisconsin taxpayers from the unpredictability of federal funding.”

Opponents of Walker’s health care decision have said the move may have brought all citizens in poverty under the BadgerCare umbrella, but leaves many other low-income citizens without coverage they could have received if Walker had chosen to use federal funds to establish a state-run system.

Many low-income people will still be able to receive federal subsidies to buy mandated health insurance on the federal exchange.

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