Baldwin, Ryan Lead Bipartisan Push for BadgerCare
Led by Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), nine Members of Wisconsin's Congressional delegation today appealed to Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt to grant Wisconsin a waiver to further expand its BadgerCare Plus program and give more Wisconsin residents access to affordable health care.
Under federal rules, states are limited in the ways they can use federal Medicaid funds. Medicaid is the federal-state health insurance program for people with low incomes. Wisconsin has been a leader among states seeking innovative ways to expand health care coverage to all its residents. Last year, Wisconsin received a waiver to institute BadgerCare Plus, a Medicaid-funded program which provides health insurance for all children under the age of 19 years. The State now seeks a waiver for a second phase of BadgerCare Plus that will provide affordable health care coverage to low-income, uninsured, childless adults for implementation on January 1, 2009.
In a letter sent today, Reps. Baldwin and Ryan, joined by Senators Kohl and Feingold and Representatives Obey, Petri, Kind, Moore, and Kagen asked Secretary Leavitt to grant a waiver that would provide access to health care coverage for an estimated 81,000 chronically uninsured adult Wisconsin residents.
Along with today's letter, Baldwin and Ryan issued the following joint statement:
"BadgerCare Plus provides an innovative and financially responsible path toward ensuring the health and well-being of our state's most vulnerable individuals. We are proud to work together and grateful for the support of other Members of our state delegation in offering this bipartisan letter of endorsement. We hope Secretary Leavitt will do the right thing and grant the waiver."
Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle expressed appreciation for the Congressional support. "Here in Wisconsin, we have found a way to extend health insurance this year to 72,000 children. Now, we are looking at an innovative and responsible way to build on this success and get coverage for more people who need health insurance. I applaud Rep. Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Paul Ryan for their efforts," Doyle said.
Baldwin and Ryan expressed hope that this letter of Congressional support will prompt a timely decision on Wisconsin's waiver request by the Department of Health and Human Services.