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Under new rules implemented in July, 2012 for one of Wisconsin's Medicaid programs, people enrolled in BadgerCare saw their premiums increase up to ten fold. Not surprisingly, enrollment in the program has declined, and Governor Scott Walker's administration is shocked, shocked I tell you, that low-income Wisconsinites are choosing not to participate in the program. From the Milwaukee Business Journal:

The policy changes that Wisconsin enacted mirror the premium schedule in the federal Affordable Care Act that will be in place in 2014, said Stephanie Smiley, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health Services.

“While Wisconsin Medicaid enrollment remains at historic highs, we have seen a dip in enrollment, largely due to adults not paying their premiums,” Smiley said.

Department of Health Services officials do not know why some people failed to pay their premiums, Smiley said.

Remember, this is coming from the same Scott Walker Administration that has so far refused to begin implementing the health care exchanges and other requirements of the Affordable Care Act, even refused federal funds to get a jump on things. Instead, Walker is banking on a Mitt Romney victory and the repeal of Obamacare.

Smiley's obnoxious, faux ignorance and her snarky reference to the ACA is typical of a Walker appointee. She could easily have extended her remarks with "If only we could have predicted this. If only someone, anyone, could have convinced those poor people working a family farm and/or two or three minimum wage jobs how important it is that they take personal responsibility and pay their premiums so other taxpayers don't have to pay for their health care. They can borrow the money from their parents, can't they? Or take out a loan from a bank? Or how about get a better job with health care benefits? I mean, how hard is that? Many farm families in Wisconsin rely on Badgercare for their health care coverage. Can't they, like, sell a cow or something to pay their premium?"

The Obama administration approved Wisconsin's cost-cutting measures after changes to original proposals that would have made even more drastic cuts. The Wisconsin legislature's Joint Finance Committee approved the revised rules on a party line vote earlier this year. Can you guess how each party voted?

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported in March of this year on one scenario under the new rules:

...a single parent with two children who makes more than $28,635 a year would typically see his or her annual premiums rise to $1,145 - 9 1/2 times more than the current premium of $120 a year but less than the previously proposed increase to $1,432 a year. In all, the higher premiums would apply to 91,500 BadgerCare Plus participants - almost two-thirds of them children.
What this all means, of course, is that more people will have no coverage. They will forego needed medical exams and ongoing care for their chronic conditions and instead they will end up using emergency room visits as their medical plan. But that was the plan all along:
...Robert Kraig, executive director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, said that the state knew that many people wouldn't be able to pay the premiums and would leave the program. That will save the state money but will lead to an increase in uninsured state residents using costly care like emergency rooms. "They intended for people to leave the program. That is the cost-saving mechanism," Kraig said.
This will lower one line item in the state budget, but it won't save Wisconsinites any money. One way or another, we will all pay for the health care needs of those who can't afford their premiums.

Originally posted to Giles Goat Boy on Tue Oct 16, 2012 at 09:31 AM PDT.

Also republished by Badger State Progressive.

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