MADISON — Tomorrow, Tuesday, May 25th, the Wisconsin Legislature will meet for a special session called by Governor Tony Evers for an opportunity to expand Medicaid, known as BadgerCare in the state. Three physicians joined together today to call on the Legislature to work with Gov. Evers to expand BadgerCare. Wisconsin remains one of just one a dozen states that haven’t expanded Medicaid, but this year presents a crucial opportunity to do so as the federal government has offered an additional, one-time incentive of about $1 billion.
“As physicians, we know how critical being able to visit a doctor and get the medication or mental health care needed to live healthy lives is for our patients, said Dr. Ann Helms, a neurologist in Brookfield. “Expanding BadgerCare, as legislators can choose to do tomorrow, will make sure that 91,000 more Wisconsinites would get access to affordable health care. Furthermore, expanding Badgercare will reduce uncompensated care and keep rural and community hospitals financially viable. Finally, and importantly, expanding BadgerCare will help address the deep racial disparities in health care access and outcomes in our state.”
BadgerCare is comprehensive health insurance for many children, parents, low-wage earners, and families working hard to make ends meet. For these Wisconsinites, BadgerCare covers health care essentials like doctors visits, prescriptions, mental health care, hospital services, and more. By helping Wisconsinites of color gain insurance, communities who have been previously shut out of critical doctor appointments and needed treatments can finally get the care they need to thrive.
Across the country, rural hospitals have been struggling to stay open, threatening care for those who live in the area and may have to drive hours to the nearest hospital. If more people are insured under BadgerCare, their care in hospitals will be paid for, and those hospitals will be more financially secure.
“As a doctor, I’ve seen what happens when people go without coverage — they ignore treatable issues that become worse issues — issues that are harder and more expensive to treat later,” said Dr. Madelaine Tully, a family physician in Milwaukee County. “Although BadgerCare is available to most people making less than 100% of the federal poverty level, many of our friends, family, and neighbors are falling through the cracks and going without adequate coverage through no fault of their own. BadgerCare expansion will mean fewer people have to go without health insurance and without care that can so vastly improve their lives. We hope our Republican leaders in the Legislature will think about their constituents who are slipping through the cracks of the system and expand BadgerCare to help our patients, and help the whole state.”
After Governor Evers announced his plan for BadgerCare expansion last week and the special session tomorrow, several Republican leaders in the Senate stated their opposition. That’s despite the additional savings the state would benefit from thanks to the federal coronavirus relief passed by Congress and President Joe Biden. If Wisconsin expands Medicaid, the federal government would pay a larger share of Wisconsin’s BadgerCare program costs.
“Expanding BadgerCare will bring our tax dollars in the federal back home, helping support hospitals, and create jobs here in Wisconsin,” said Dr. Brian Ewert a nephrologist in Marshfield. “Of course, that’s all in addition to the benefit it would provide in the health outcomes of our patients and all Wisconsinites. I have seen in my own practice how increasing access to care can help patients with early kidney disease stop it from getting worse and needing dialysis. Our experience as doctors, and the research, make it clear: Medicaid expansion improves and saves lives. Combining that with the financial savings our state will see make it a no-brainer. Legislators from both sides of the aisle should come together and work out a deal tomorrow to expand BadgerCare, strengthen our state, and save lives.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, May 24, 2021
NOTE: The physicians above are speaking in their capacity as members of the Committee to Protect Health Care. They should be identified only as indicated in this news release.