Chippewa Co. Human Services responds - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Chippewa Co. Human Services responds to Gov. Walker's new health care plan

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Chippewa County (WQOW) - The governor's new health care plan has us digging deeper, to find out how many people in our area will be affected by the governor's plan to move more people off BadgerCare.

Wednesday, he said he's turning down federal money to expand Medicaid services in lieu of his own proposal.  He wants to change the qualifications, lift the cap on a program to insure adults without children, and set aside an additional $644 million in his budget.  The governor says that will cut the number of uninsured in half. 

Chippewa County Director of Human Services, Larry Winter, says, "Roughly 1 in 4 of our citizens are actually dependent on public assistance to receive their health care."

That number has soared in recent years... The economy and rising cost of health care, are big reasons why. Winter says, "We know that there are businesses in Chippewa County for example, that have people who are employed with them, and as a result of business reasons, actually encourage their employees to seek public assistance for health care, rather than they themselves paying for it."

On Wednesday when the governor laid out his reform plan, he talked about reducing the number of people who are dependent on the government.

"If their employer offered them health care, they wouldn't be dependent on the system, so I think we have to be very careful to say, people are dependent on the public system.  It's not because of their choosing sometimes, it's because of the way that the system is set up, that allows that to happen," says Winter. He says, when you compare the federal expansion of Medicaid to the governor's plan..."It's really who's paying, as far as what the difference comes down to."

Both plans say they would cut the number of people who are uninsured by 50 percent. Winter says, "It puts Wisconsin, from the Governor's perspective, where we're not taking any unnecessary risks and I believe the unnecessary risks are financially, in years three and beyond, once the Affordable Health Care Act, is implemented, January 1."

In the governor's plan, funding will be provided only for those adults without kids who are considered to be in poverty. "What will happen is, individuals who are above the poverty level will still continue to have the opportunity to have health care. But, they will need to seek that out privately, or through the health care exchange."

The health care exchange is a key point.  Those who would no longer be eligible for BadgerCare could buy their coverage through the federally-run insurance exchange, which is part of the health care reform law.  The head of a public interest law firm, ABC for Health, said Thursday, they're concerned about the governor's plan... Saying the poorest people moved out of BadgerCare will have a hard time affording the cost of coverage under the exchange.

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