Sun Prairie Action Resource Coalition (SPARC) was pleased to sign on to a recent letter with a large coalition of state-wide health, human services, and community organizations calling on U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to ensure that as many Wisconsinites as are legally eligible fully benefit from recent changes to health care law. The letter asks the Secretary to make a formal ruling to clearly define what “newly eligible” means to Wisconsinites who either participate in, or are eligible for, Medicaid waiver programs like BadgerCare Plus.
The letter was a companion to this letter to Governor Walker and members of the Wisconsin legislator, calling on them to fully enact the Affordable Care Act‘s provision to expand Medicaid coverage to Wisconsinites with incomes up to 133% of the poverty rate.
This expansion both saves the state money and improves the quality and access to healthcare for struggling Wisconsin families. Adopting the intended definition of “newly eligible” (as defined by Senators Kohl and Feingold in the colloquy attached to the letter linked above) would mean that Wisconsinites who currently qualify for, but do not receive, BadgerCare Plus benefits (because enrollment has been frozen), would be eligible for coverage under the new law.
SPARC proudly supports these efforts to ensure that all Wisconsinites have full and equal access to health care as provided under the new law, and encourages our legislators to act quickly to secure these much-needed benefits for struggling and working-class families and individuals in our community.
The full text of the letter, co-signed by SPARC is pasted below. Click here for more information on the Affordable Care Act.
December 10, 2012
The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius
Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201
Dear Secretary Sebelius:
A significant factor for Wisconsin policymakers as they consider expanding our Medicaid program is whether the “newly eligible” group includes Wisconsin residents with incomes up to 133% of FPL who now participate in or simply qualify for the state’s BadgerCare Plus Core program, a general purpose revenue (GPR)-supported Medicaid waiver program.
As you know, if a person is “newly eligible,” then the state qualifies for a 100% federal matching rate (FMAP) from calendar years 2014 through 2016, a 95% rate in 2017, 94% in 2018, 93% in 2019, and a 90% rate in 2020 and later. Thus, whether those who now participate in or simply qualify for BadgerCare Plus Core are included in the “newly eligible” group will have a considerable impact on Wisconsin taxpayers.
We believe that Congress’s clear intent was to treat all of Wisconsin’s eligible non-caretaker adults with incomes up to 133% of FPL as “newly eligible,” including those who participate in or qualify for the BadgerCare Plus Core program.
Attached is a colloquy on Wisconsin’s “newly eligible” from the Congressional Record that Senators Kohl (D-WI) and Feingold (D-WI) engaged in with Senator Baucus (D-MT), the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance and the Senate majority’s floor manager of the ACA. This colloquy occurred two days before the Senate approved the ACA.
In response to specific questions posed by Senators Kohl and Feingold as to whether Wisconsin residents are “newly eligible” if they are enrolled in Medicaid waiver programs (like BadgerCare Plus Core) that are not benchmark or benchmark-equivalent plans, Senator Baucus replied: “Yes.”
We believe this colloquy is an authoritative expression of Congress’ intent that the definition of “newly eligible” shall include those who are enrolled in or simply qualify for Wisconsin’s Badger Care Plus Core program.
We urge you to issue a rule quickly on the definition of “newly eligible” that reflects Congress’s intent. The sooner you confirm that Senator Baucus’ explanation on the Senate floor is also your Department’s position, the sooner Wisconsin (and other states) will be able to move forward to expand Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousands of low-income Americans.
AFSCME – WI
ARACOPA Coalition for Social Justice
Citizen Action of Wisconsin
Coalition for Wisconsin Health
Community Action Coalition for South Central WI, Inc.
Community Advocates Public Policy Institute
Community Action Inc. of Rock and Walworth County/First Choice Women’s Health Center
Disability Rights Wisconsin
Freedom Inc., Madison, WI
Linda & Gene Farley WI Chapter, Physicians for a National Health Plan
Mental Health America of Wisconsin
Milwaukee Mental Health Task Force
National Physicians Alliance – Wisconsin
Options for Independent Living
Physicians for Social Responsibility – Wisconsin
Sun Prairie Action Resource Coalition
Survival Coalition of Wisconsin Disability Organizations
Wellness Center of Door County, Inc.
Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health
Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities
Wisconsin Council on Children and Families
Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice
Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals
Wisconsin Women’s Network
Cc: President Barack Obama; CMS Medicaid Director Cindy Mann; HHS Regional Director Kenneth Munson; Jeanne Lambrew, White House; Senator Herb Kohl; Senator Ron Johnson; Representatives Tammy Baldwin, Ron Kind, Gwen Moore, Paul Ryan, Jim Sensenbrenner, Tom Petri, Reid Ribble, and Sean Duffy