Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Revised DHS Plans for BadgerCare Apply Premiums to 17,000 More Adults

Kids Coverage Largely Protected in Plans before Finance Committee Wednesday

The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) is meeting on March 14 to consider revisions to the proposed changes to BadgerCare that it approved in November.   As we noted yesterday, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) has prepared a thorough analysis of the changes the committee will review Wednesday, which were proposed by  the Dept. of Health Services (DHS) after a couple of months of negotiations with federal officials regarding the requested waivers and plan amendments. The LFB paper contains mixed news for families who are participating in or might later be eligible for BadgerCare.

Overall, the latest DHS proposals are significantly better than the plan approved by the JFC several months ago, but there are still a number of very worrisome aspects of the revised package of changes to BadgerCare:
  • If approved in its current form, the revised proposals would reduce BadgerCare participation by nearly 23,000 people.
  • Compared to the original proposals, the revised plan imposes premiums on an additional 17,000 adults in BadgerCare (with incomes between 133% and 150% of the federal poverty level).
  • DHS expects 4,600 of those adults (27%) to drop out of BadgerCare because of the extension of premiums into that income range. 
  • If the Alternative Benchmark Plan and the other proposals are approved, a total of more than 330,000 people will be adversely affected (losing BadgerCare coverage or paying more for premiums and/or co-pays). 
On the positive side of the ledger: 
  • The new proposals are far less disruptive than the original DHS plan, which was expected to reduce BadgerCare enrollment by more than 64,000 people.
  • The revised plan preserves coverage for at least 90% of the more than 29,000 children who DHS estimated would be knocked out of BadgerCare by the original proposals. 
  • Thus far, federal officials have not agreed to any changes that cause a significant increase in red tape that is likely to suppress enrollment (although the proposal for increased documentation of residency is still on the table and, if approved, could create serious problems for the efficiency of the application process). 
For more information about the latest DHS proposals, see the paper WCCF completed today, which provides an analysis and side-by-side comparison of the original and revised proposals.  Some of the highlights of that paper can be found in a two-page fact sheet from the Save BadgerCare Coalition.  

Jon Peacock

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