Walker announces call for special session on BadgerCare changes

Governor anticipates bipartisan support in both houses

Published On: Nov 14 2013 06:58:31 PM CST   Updated On: Nov 14 2013 08:44:55 PM CST
MADISON, Wis. -

Issues on the federal website healthcare.gov are prompting Gov. Scott Walker to propose a delay in his plan for health care in the state.

The governor had proposed moving some 77,000 people off BadgerCare and onto insurance coverage purchased on the federal exchange to make room for other childless adults currently without insurance, all in lieu of a federal Medicaid expansion.

Thursday, Walker said his plan needed to wait.

"We're going to take decisive action to make sure that the people of this state, particularly people in need, do not fall through the cracks," Walker said.

Walker said a special session is needed to delay changes that lawmakers approved in the state budget to accommodate for only 877 people being able to sign up on the federal exchange online.

"It would be easy to say this is their fault and not ours," Walker said. "We're not going to let the people of this state who are in need, who are relying on the safety net, to fall through the cracks just because the people who pushed Obamacare can't make it work today."

Democrats say while the delay is needed, they're questioning the governor's original plan.

"We're here because of his refusal to start a Wisconsin exchange," Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, said.

Mason said the governor should have taken federal Medicaid expansion funds.

"If it's better to be on BadgerCare, why don't we expand BadgerCare and keep more people on it rather than let them go into the exchange?" Mason said.

Walker said his plan allows more childless adults to get covered and says an "abysmal" rollout illustrates his point.

"The failure of the Obamacare rollout is precisely why I didn't take the Medicaid expansion in the first place," Walker said. "Republican or Democrat alike, around the country people who are taking the Medicaid expansion are depending on the federal government to live up to their commitment -- a federal government who can't even get a website up and going to get people signed up for Obamacare."

Walker said he anticipates bipartisan support in both houses of the legislature when they take it up, hopefully in early December.

Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said Thursday he was interested in seeing whether there was a month-to-month option that could be considered rather than a delay until March. Walker said he'd rather it be a hard date instead of dealing with it over and over.

The governor will officially call the special session later this month.