Wisconsin is granted special Obamacare enrollment period - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Wisconsin is granted special Obamacare enrollment period

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Madison, WI (WKOW) - - MADISON (WKOW) -- 38,000 Wisconsin residents are getting a second chance to enroll in private health insurance through the Affordable Care Act's federal marketplace.
Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) asked the Obama Administration to allow a special enrollment period for those people who lost their BadgerCare coverage earlier this year, and didn't sign up for Obamacare before the initial enrollment period ended.

For months, Sen. Baldwin had been pressing Governor Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) to accept the federal expansion of Medicaid in Wisconsin.  That would have allowed anyone with an income up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level to receive BadgerCare benefits.  BadgerCare is the Wisconsin version of Medicaid.

"These are pretty vulnerable people, pretty low-income people," Sen. Baldwin told 27 News on Thursday.

But the Governor has stayed firm, saying that accepting the Medicaid expansion would result in Wisconsin eventually having to pay benefits for those extra people once the federal government stopped footing the bill.

That's why Sen. Baldwin asked the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services to allow for a 60-day special enrollment period, so those who lost their BadgerCare would have a second chance to get private health insurance through the federal exchange.

"I think unless they've had a significant change in their income, that they're gonna qualify for pretty substantial subsidies," said Sen. Baldwin.

In July, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) reported that 62,776 people lost their BadgerCare when Gov. Walker chose to limit eligibility to people who are at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level.  DHS said 18,801 of them obtained private insurance during Obamacare's initial enrollment and approximately 5,000 more ultimately did qualify for BadgerCare.  That means as many as 38,116, about 70 percent of those who lost their state coverage, are likely uninsured.

When asked about Sen. Baldwin's request earlier this week, Gov. Walker said it was more about campaign politics than policy

"I think this is a situation where somebody's looking for a problem that doesn't exist," said Gov. Walker.

The Governor maintains there is no coverage gap in Wisconsin, because everyone who lives below the poverty level has access to BadgerCare.

"People above were allowed the ability to transition into the marketplace," said Gov. Walker. 

But Sen. Baldwin says its clear those 38,116 people didn't do that. She hopes they now will.

"What we want people to do is try.  Try to enroll, see what the options are," said Sen. Baldwin.

The special enrollment period went into effect Thursday and will run until November 2nd, but people will not be able to enroll online.  They'll have to call a federal help-line at 1-800-318-2596 to apply.

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