Eau Claire (WQOW) - Inside Governor Walker's budget repair bill is a plan that would change who can use state health insurance programs like BadgerCare Plus. The proposal lowers the required income level in order to qualify and could impact coverage for 63,000 people across the state.
Pat Skogen is a retired teacher. She now operates a small dairy farm in western Wisconsin.
"For the last two-years, dairy farmers have barely met the cost of production," says Skogen.
Skogen had health insurance through her retirement plan, but says she wasn't able to afford it because of low milk prices.
"Over 80% of it was being taken, I was ending up with $600 a month by the time I paid my COBRA health insurance payment," says Skogen. "Last July when we had to pay our real estate taxes, I said enough, I can't do it anymore and I dropped our health coverage."
Skogen is now enrolled in BadgerCare Plus, but that coverage is in jeopardy. A measure in Governor Walker's budget repair bill would lower the benchmark for enrolling in the program from a monthly income of $1,800 to $1,100.
"If they roll the poverty level back to 133%, those individuals making $1800 a month would no longer qualify for BadgerCare," says Larry Winter, Chippewa County Human Services Director.
In Chippewa County, nearly 4,000 people are enrolled in BadgerCare programs. Winter says he doesn't know how many of those people would be dropped under the bill.
"People that need individual therapy and psychiatry now have a card and they can go to a local facility that offers that type of service," says Winter. "Our concern is that those individuals that would be losing this benefit, what portion of those would have acute mental health and AODA issues, that might end up needing care."
As for Skogen, if her families dropped she says they would have to go without health insurance.
"I worry about all the small family farmers out there who are hanging on by their fingernails until milk prices improve," says Winter.
There's also some concern the state could reduce the number of health issues covered under the program. WQOW News 18 reached out to governor's office Wednesday to see how much the change would save the state, but did not hear back.