Debate over data: New insurance numbers create dispute between Walker, critics

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MADISON (WITI) -- It's a debate over data. Disagreements over healthcare policies in Wisconsin take a new twist with the release of new numbers. Both Gov. Scott Walker's administration and its critics are weighing in.

The Walker administration is touting the numbers that could undermine critics' claims of an "insurance gap" for the state's poorest people.

"Everyone living in poverty will be covered under Medicaid. Those living above it will be transitioned into the marketplace," Gov. Walker said.

When Gov. Walker rejected federal money to expand BadgerCare, which was and is available under the Affordable Care Act, he also designated new eligibility standards for the program.

That meant 63,000 people were removed from BadgerCare's rolls.

"They'll provide multiple options for affordable health care, and at the same time  we're reducing the long-term burdens on our taxpayers," Gov. Walker said.

In April alone, more than 81,000 childless adults enrolled in BadgerCare under the new guidelines, according to the state's Department of Health Services.

"We see this as a huge missed opportunity. There were over 84,000 Wisconsinites who could have had guaranteed access to affordable coverage had the state just taken the federal funds," Kevin Kane with Citizen Action Wisconsin said.

Kane, and Walker's critics say Gov. Walker should still take the federal money.

Kane estimates 25,000 people have been denied coverage by the decision.

"When it costs more state dollars and federal dollars to cover fewer people, it's not good public policy, but it is good political sense if you're reaching out to a base that thinks government has no role to play in people's lives," Kane said.

"It's not a yes or no proposition. What we're doing is creative.  To my knowledge, it hasn't been done by any other governor in the country," Gov. Walker said.

The state is still trying to determine how many of the 63,000 people dropped from the rolls bought health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

The deadline for the former BadgerCare enrollees to sign up for health insurance using the Affordable Care Act marketplace is just 10 days away.