Changes designed to pare back Wisconsin's Medicaid program are having an effect on enrollment. Critics say participation in BadgerCare is "plummeting."
To save costs, the state tightened up eligibility for programs like BadgerCare Plus and the basic health insurance program for childless, single adults called BadgerCare Core. Since those changes in July, BadgerCare enrollment has dropped by over 16,000. Department of Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith calls it a "modest" dip in a program that he still has over 1 million participants. He says most people below 200 percent of poverty are paying increased premiums, "There are about 23,000 subject to the premiums more than 21,000 paid their premiums so over 90 percent paid their premiums in August and their average (monthly payment) was $132."
A public interest law firm predicts the number of BadgerCare enrollees will continue to decline beyond the Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimate of 23,000. Bobby Peterson of ABC for Health says this will increased the number of uninsured in Wisconsin. Some of those will have unpaid medical bills that get passed on to paying customers, "At one end you're saying, 'hey, we're saving money cause enrollments dropping. But at the other end costs are going up because all that debt (from ER patient who can't pay) gets distributed to everybody else."
Most of those losing coverage are low income parents of kids on BadgerCare Plus.