Dear Editor: The proposed “budget repair bill” seeks to limit the eligibility criteria of BadgerCare Plus and to potentially provide the authority to do so with limited legislative oversight. BadgerCare Plus was designed, in part, with self-employed farm families in mind. Current eligibility allows for income-eligible families to receive adequate medical care. Some families, based upon income, pay premiums to receive BadgerCare Plus coverage.
The proposed changes would drastically reduce eligibility for BadgerCare Plus benefits and leave an estimated 10,000 family farm individuals (Wisconsin Farmer’s Union), and a total of 62,000 working Wisconsinites without health care coverage (Wisconsin State Farmer, March 1).
Wisconsin dairy farmers, who are self-employed and often unable to access employer-sponsored health insurance, face many barriers to affordable health care insurance, including volatile and unpredictable changes to income, high premiums and deductibles for private insurance, and denials for private insurance based upon the potential health risks inherent to farming. Even worse, some private policies won’t cover care related to injury on the “work site”!
The proposed changes to BadgerCare are counterintuitive to Walker’s reported stance of economic improvement in our state. Farmers and other self-employed people shouldn’t be penalized and face barriers to equitable health insurance — especially when BadgerCare is used as a system of last resort by the working people who need it.