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Governor responds to critics on special session, medicaid dollars


KING, Wis. (WSAU) -- The Legislature’s Special Session saw the Assembly take action to extend the deadline for a large number of Wisconsinites leaving Badgercare and signing up for the Affordable Care Act exchanges. The Republican controlled Assembly had no trouble passing the time extension, and the Senate is expected to do the same. Minority Democrats did take the opportunity to criticize their Republican counterparts once again for not taking the federal tax dollars offered to expand Medicaid.

The Democrats have been critical of Governor Scott Walker for turning down that money, and they claim Walker’s way cost taxpayers more money and leaves a segment of people just above the poverty line with no health insurance. Walker isn’t wavering from his plan, and says the temporary gap is just that... temporary, and it’s a problem the Democrats created yet blame him for not fixing. “Ironically, the people issuing the criticism are the people who put those people on the waiting list, so it’s a little bit of an ironic position, but for the first time in the state’s history, it never happened under Jim Doyle or any other governor, as of April 1st anyone living in poverty in this state for the first time ever will be covered.”

Walker says the people who are above the poverty line but had previously been on Medicaid would now be eligible under the exchanges, but he says the failure of the Affordable Care Act website coupled with the federal government’s likely failure to get the exchanges up and running by January 1st forced the state to step in and take these emergency measures. “We didn’t want people to fall through the cracks” adding, “As of the beginning of the second quarter in 2014, (for) the first time in our state’s history, we’ll have no coverage gap. We’ll be one of the few states in the country that can say that. Everyone living in poverty will be covered. Everyone living above it (poverty) will have an option for insurance in the marketplace, and we’ll do it without hurting the taxpayer.”

The State Senate is expected to vote on the BadgerCare extension as early as this week.

Walker made his comments Saturday while participating in a Pearl Harbor veterans recognition program at the Wisconsin Veteran’s Home in King, Wisconsin.