Proposed bill would allow anyone to buy into state healthcare program

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- New legislation would allow a statewide healthcare program to be available for anyone to buy.

Wednesday, Madison lawmakers announced a new proposal that would allow BadgerCare to become a public option for health insurance.

While some locals say this would help Wisconsinites in a time of uncertainty of our national healthcare programs, others say, it's just another mistake.

Driving by the intersection of Hastings Way and Bracket Avenue in Eau Claire Wednesday, you may have noticed a few folks holding up signs. The Citizen Action Organizing Cooperative was out, hoping to make a statement to drivers as they passed by about supporting the Affordable Health Care Act, not something everyone agrees with.

“The Affordable Care Act put us on the right track to allow people to afford health insurance,” said Jeff Smith, the Citizen Action Organizing Cooperative organizer.

“The ACA has basically been a catastrophic failure,” countered Brian Westrate the Third Congressional District Republican chairman.

While nationally, healthcare has been in an unsure state. Wednesday, lawmakers from Wisconsin announced new legislation to help people afford healthcare here. That legislation includes opening up BadgerCare to everyone as a public option for health insurance.

“If we do the right thing here in Wisconsin and pass this legislation, which by the way all we have to do is change one word in the law, which would allow people to buy into the BadgerCare,” Smith said. “It doesn't cost the state anymore, it actually invests in Wisconsin and that's what we should be focused on.”

While democrats say it could potentially save people money, local republicans are calling it a socialized medicine.

“It is literally single-care universal health care, just at a state level instead of at a national level,” Westrate said. “It cost money. The money is real, it comes from somewhere. There’s $1.8 billion already in the budget covering the people who are in BadgerCare now. That's not the solution.”

Westrate says the free market is the answer for health insurance.

The bill that would allow BadgerCare to become a public option has not been officially sent to the legislature. Lawmakers say they plan on submitting the proposal Thursday.

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