WI Gov. Walker mulling Medicaid alternative

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who heads one of the few northern states that is not planning to expand Medicaid eligibility as part of the Affordable Care Act, has put forth a proposal that would move tens of thousands of the state's residents out of the BadgerCare program and into the state's health insurance exchange, Kaiser Health News and NPR reported.

BadgerCare currently covers adults earning up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Walker wants to roll eligibility back to 100 percent, then place those people onto the exchange, where they could purchase coverage for as little as $19 a month.

"You're going to hear some detractors claim that moving people to the private market or to the exchanges isn't affordable," Walker told Kaiser Health News. "I think most people would find it hard to imagine that with the tax subsidies, that $19 a month is somehow not affordable. I think it is."

The plan would open up coverage to an additional 83,000 Wisconsites who would qualify for subsidized coverage on the exchange but are currently barred from BadgerCare due to enrollment caps, according to Kaiser Health News.

Although those current BadgerCare enrollees have little in terms of out-of-pocket costs, they could wind up paying thousands of dollars a year in deductibles and cost-sharing if they purchased bronze-level health plans. Moreover, a Kaiser Health Foundation study estimates that's Walker's plan will cost an additional $460 million through 2020 than simply taking federal funds to expand Medicaid.

Walker's proposal is not dissimilar to ones being floated in other states such as Tennessee and Missouri, both of which want to use their exchanges for expansion.

Meanwhile, in Indiana, Gov. Mike Pence is seeking a meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to get an approval to expand Medicaid in his state, the Indianapolis Star reported. Pence has advocated a plan with an enrollment cap, cost-sharing and benefit limits. Current Medicaid guidelines in the state bar childless adults and require a parent to make no more than $4,640 a year to qualify.

To learn more:
- read the Kaiser Health News article
- here's the Indianapolis Star article

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