While Congress and President Bush arm-wrestle over an expansion of federal health programs to cover poor children and others, Wisconsin has approved a reconstituted version of its own state-based plan.
The new program, called BadgerCare Plus, takes effect on Feb. 1 and offers health coverage to every child in Wisconsin by streamlining three state-run health programs—Medicaid, BadgerCare and Healthy Start—into one comprehensive program.
The biggest changes in BadgerCare Plus are in income eligibility standards. Low-income families will be able to enroll their children into BadgerCare Plus at no charge. But the new program will allow those with higher incomes—in some cases, earning 300 percent of federal poverty levels—to participate but be responsible for higher premiums and copays than identical enrollee types who earn less.
The program also makes it easier for pregnant women, childless adults, farmers and other self-employed individuals to qualify for coverage.
—Ronald A. Wirtz