Tim Morrissey, Public News Service-WI
(12/02/13) MADISON, Wis. - A special legislative session later this month could have a big impact on about 85,000 low-income Wisconsinites without dependent children. State lawmakers will consider a plan from Gov. Walker that would delay health insurance coverage for this group of people from Jan. 1 to the end of March.
Helen Marks Dicks, AARP Wisconsin, said the governor's original coverage plan in the state budget approved in June was a better idea.
"They came up with a Wisconsin-unique solution that left the state of Wisconsin with no coverage gaps, even though we did not accept Medicaid expansion," Dicks explained. "This new plan will create a coverage gap for people without children in their household, who are under 100 percent of poverty."
AARP said it wants the governor to keep a promise he made to those low-income people in the budget last summer, and not delay implementation for three months. Any delay would have a drastic effect, according to Dicks.
"These people cannot get coverage through the marketplace, because the marketplace subsidies start at 100 percent of poverty. For the most part, people will be totally without coverage - they'll go to emergency rooms," she warned.
The governor and state legislature should keep their promises to help low-income adults without dependent children who need Medicaid coverage, she said, adding that right now it's the law, and it should not be changed.
According to Dicks, the promise made in the budget is a commitment that the state would not turn its back on low-income Wisconsinites who are in need. A large number of people with minimum-wage jobs will be hit hard if the delay is approved in the special session, Dicks predicted.
"We have a significant number of people who have lost their jobs, and we have older workers who are having a harder time getting back into the job market. So, we have people who are low-income and just don't have another way to get insurance," she said.