Proposed federal budget threatens future of BadgerCare Basic

By WHN staff

The future of BadgerCare Plus Basic could be in jeopardy after President Barack Obama’s proposed budget eliminated a federal grant that helps subsidize the program. It is unlikely lawmakers will add it back to the final budget.

Basic provides limited benefits for individuals on the waiting list for the more comprehensive BadgerCare Plus Core Program. Core reached its maximum enrollment in fall 2009. It provides access to health care services for low-income adults who do not have children. No state funding is used to support the Basic program, but a more than $7 million federal grant has helped subsidize premiums, according to Rich Albertoni, director of the Bureau of Enrollment Policy and Systems with the Department of Health Services. Members pay an average of $130 per month, plus co-pays. If the federal funding is eliminated, it could make premiums unaffordable for many, Albertoni said.

Enrollment in Basic has grown steadily since it opened in July 2010. It now provides coverage to more than 5,700 individuals, and more than 700 are added each month, Albertoni said.

An audit of the state’s Medical Assistance program, at least in part, is expected to be completed by summer.  The $6.7 billion program, which includes BadgerCare Plus, provides health care coverage to one out of every five Wisconsin residents.