Budget panel advances Walker’s Medicaid changes

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Budget panel advances Walker’s Medicaid changes

The Legislature’s Republican-controlled budget committee has approved Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal that delays kicking 72,000 people off of the state’s Medicaid program.

A series of shifts, both on and off of BadgerCare, would wait until April 1 under the plan approved by the Joint Finance Committee Monday.

Walker plans to pay for continuing that coverage through March by delaying for an equal time the expansion of Medicaid coverage for 83,000 childless adults earning below the poverty level.

“We’re trying to create the certainty that we can today in a responsible way, and would we like to do more? Of course. But for these three months we’re doing what we can do,” Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, said.

Walker said those losing coverage need more time to sign up for private health insurance through the online exchange.

Democrats and health care advocates who testified earlier Monday urged Republicans to not delay coverage to the childless adults. Republicans rejected a Democratic proposal to accept federal money to pay for expanded Medicaid coverage.

“There’s no reason to extend BadgerCare for three months. We have to deny coverage to 83,000 childless adults for three months. There are other ways we could fund this,” Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, said.

The budget committee voted 11-2 to pass the bill, with all Republicans and one Democrat in support and two Democrats against. The bill will now go to the Assembly on Wednesday and the Senate later this month.