BadgerCare cuts devastate families
The following is a column from Rep. Donna Seidel, which originally appeared in today's Wausau Daily Herald:
Unfortunately, since January, health care has been one of the key areas under attack by the Walker administration. Most recently the Walker administration's Department of Health Services announced a proposal that will kick 65,000 people off of their health insurance, including nearly 30,000 children.
Because these changes will have a significant impact on so many people, I hosted a public hearing with other legislators on Nov. 14 at Northcentral Technical College to give people the opportunity to share their personal stories about struggling to access affordable health care.
The testimony we heard was compelling. Of the approximately 60 people that attended, many are currently on BadgerCare because their employers do not offer health care benefits. They spoke passionately about the direct impact this Walker administration proposal will have on their families.
Even people who do not receive BadgerCare benefits spoke about the important role that it plays in our community. And several people who came to learn more about the proposed cuts were surprised to find out that the details were even worse than they had expected.
We listened to health care professionals and elected officials who expressed concern about the larger impact the proposal would have on the cost of health care for everyone, including those with private insurance. This short-sighted decision becomes a hidden tax on insured families, who will now be forced to pay an estimated $10 million to $16 million to care for the 65,000 individuals who will no longer have access to affordable health insurance.
The Walker administration claims these changes are necessary because Wisconsin has no money, but the governor and legislative Republicans this year gave away $2.3 billion in tax breaks to large corporations, wealthy individuals and special interests. Because of those choices, they are now looking to make up the money by taking it out on struggling people whose needs are even greater during these difficult economic times.
Earlier this year, Gov. Walker and the Republicans gave the DHS Secretary unprecedented authority to make changes without going through the standard legislative process -- preventing elected officials like myself from having input. Instead, an unelected bureaucrat is able to make these changes without any accountability from the public.
The Walker administration proposal has been submitted to the federal government for approval and the ultimate decision on the fate of BadgerCare now lies with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. I encourage concerned citizens who would like me to share their stories with that agency to contact my office at 888-534-0085 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This plan is another example of Gov. Walker's extreme agenda and its devastating consequences on working families. Since the governor's budget was signed at the end of June, nearly 28,000 people have lost their jobs, which means the need for BadgerCare will only continue to increase. BadgerCare is a program that was created by Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson and has always received bipartisan support. This is yet another step in the wrong direction for Gov. Walker and is completely counter to the Wisconsin Way.
For more information on the Walker administration's proposal you can visit www.savebadgercare.org.
State Rep. Donna Seidel represents the 85th Assembly District.