State works to explain BadgerCare Plus changes - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

State works to explain BadgerCare Plus changes

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - Wisconsin's new BadgerCare Plus program promises affordable access to healthcare for all.

But as the Department of Human Services surveys the state in town hall meetings, they're confronted with many questions about those claims.

"They answered some of the questions, yes.  I have a number of other questions," says town hall attendee Mort Sipress.

That's the sentiment shared by many at town hall meetings presented by the Department of Human Services as they gather feedback before submitting the BadgerCare Plus plan for federal approval.

"Anytime we are able to have folks that are coming out and listening to the changes and willing to provide comments and feedback, that's very successful," says DHS spokesperson Claire Smith.

Each person is allowed to ask questions of the proposed plan and share how they're impacted, for Sipress, it's his daughter's benefits, "She's a 39-year-old adult with cognitive disabilities.  Her operational level is like a three to five-year-old.  So she's definitely in need of services."

He receives a positive answer as the DHS explains those with disabilities will be unaffected by the changes to the BadgerCare system, as he understands it, "Even those of us who have immersed ourselves in dealing with these programs have, at times, difficulty figuring out what the rules actually are."

Rules like the federal poverty level and how those below it will not be kicked off the current plan, but anyone above 100-percent of the poverty line will be notified by September 20th that they will need to find other insurance.

"All adults who are living in poverty are going to be able to get access to health care through the Medicaid program and those who are above the poverty level will be able to access affordable health care through the marketplace," says Smith.

To see if you qualify the state assesses your income, which may be a misleading term.

"It's not just federal taxable income, it's gross income.  There are very few deductions, if any, that are taken from that income to calculate eligibility," says Sipress.

Once eligibility is determined you'll be given options based on where your finances fall and informed of what happens when the new program launches.

"They're targeted for January 1st right now, of 2014.  They're going to be implemented in tandem with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act," says Smith.

The public feedback period ends August 5th and November 18th the state will open up the application period.

If BadgerCare Plus is approved by the federal government, in January eligible individuals below the poverty line will no longer pay an enrollment fee and not be subject to an enrollment cap.

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