Walker & DHS Ignore Concerns - Support Stealth Opportunity to Weigh in with Federal Leaders on BadgerCare
Throughout July, WAWH has once again been working on drafting comments in opposition to the proposed changes to the Wisconsin BadgerCare Program for Childless adults - this time at the federal level. If you are unfamiliar with the devastating negative effects that the waiver could have by requiring monthly premiums, limiting eligibility, requiring substance abuse screening and testing to qualify please refer to our past post. Bottom line, if approved, Wisconsin's proposed changes to BadgerCare would lead to less coverage, lower health outcomes and a high burden on the average Wisconsin taxpayer.
In a previous blog post, we noted that 1045 out of 1050 of the Waiver comments submitted were negative, we have since put in an open records request to get to the core of who really spoke out in opposition to these changes. The findings of this open records request was staggering. Not only were advocacy groups such as Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, ABC for Health, and Community Advocates a voice of the opposition, but almost every type of organization that can be fathomed. There were health care providers, health care policy experts, religious groups, free clinics, tribes, senators, physicians, hospital workers, hundreds of Wisconsinites and many more. It is clear that Wisconsin rallied around a single idea: these changes will negatively affect Wisconsin.
When looking the positive comments submitted, the list was drastically smaller and did not include a single health care organization in support. Out of the 7 Wisconsinites who weighed in with their support, two of them were Representative John Nygren and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch who are both well known to be in Governor Walkers’ corner.
With over 99% of the comments coming into the Department of Health Services being negative, you would expect to see big changes to the proposed plan. Instead, the comment process seems to have been a mockery that was pushed right past in order to seek approval at the federal level because very little was changed about the proposal.
Despite overwhelming push back to the proposal, DHS submitted their application to federal decision makers and eagerly hid information about when stakeholders could weigh in at the national level.
If it wasn't for some friendly advocates who happened to find the Wisconsin application and opportunity to comment buried deep in the DHS website, we might have missed the chance to weigh in all together. Unfortunately advocates only had a few days to weigh in and urge federal leaders to reject the Wisconsin application. To view WAWH's comments to CMS, link here.
Just understand that these proposed changes are being pushed past Wisconsinites despite the overwhelming opposition voiced by the very same Wisconsinites and organizations that chose to comment on these proposed changes.
UPDATE as of 7/26/17:
The results of the federal comment period are now finished and up on the Medicaid website here. Unsurprisingly, the federal comment period showed the same outrage as the previous state comment period. A total of 125 comments were submitted and only 2 of those 125 comments were in support of the proposed changes. While it may be spun to say that most of the comments had mixed feedback on the changes; that is not the case. Over 100 of the 125 comments were in complete opposition to the changes that are being proposed for BadgerCare. Among many concerns, Wisconsin citizens fear for an overall loss of coverage and a crippling cost to Wisconsin’s economy. While it is still unclear how these proposed changes will be dealt with at the federal level, it is very clear from the two comment periods that Wisconsinites have spoken strongly against these changes.
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Sara Finger, Executive Director