Efforts made to pass BadgerCare Public Option bill

Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 4:22 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The BadgerCare Public Option Bill will be re-introduced.

State Senator, Jeff Smith, said it is the most comprehensive health reform bill in Wisconsin in over a decade.

“This is just an opportunity to get more of a local introduction. But it’s a big deal to a lot of people if they’re forced to make that choice between buying groceries or paying for their medications, or paying their rent. People shouldn’t have to make those decisions.”

Smith said this bill will not only help bring people out of poverty, but it will also help give the public their own voice.

“We are in a place, politically, where being in the minority party and introducing bills, we don’t even get public hearings. So, the public is not even given the opportunity to express their thoughts for or against anything. I’m not asking them to have a vote let’s just hear what the public has to say and give them that opportunity.”

Childcare provider and BadgerCare recipient, Julia Bennker, said she had to stay in poverty in order to keep BadgerCare insurance, but with this bill, she will be able to keep BadgerCare and also get out of poverty.

“It would allow everybody to have health care covered, which would create a healthy community that can grow and thrive. And move beyond its current circumstances,” Bennker said.

BadgerCare is currently at a 100% poverty level, which is the amount of annualized income earned by a household. Smith said that once the bill is passed, the poverty level will rise significantly, getting people back on their feet.

“It would bring in billions of dollars into the state of Wisconsin, $600 million a year, I believe, and offset a lot of costs for a lot of things in our budget. But particularly it would bring us up to that 133% poverty level,” Smith said.

Officials said this bill will expand eligibility beyond traditional Medicaid expansion.