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Gov. Walker working on solution to delay key BadgerCare deadline

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MADISON (WITI) -- Gov. Scott Walker has signaled he is working on a solution that would delay a key deadline and save thousands of Wisconsinites from losing healthcare coverage.

As worry over healthcare grows in Wisconsin, Gov. Walker is trying to ease the fears.

"If Obamacare doesn't work -- at least doesn't work temporarily -- we're going to make sure those people don't fall through the cracks," Gov. Walker said.

Gov. Walker promises no one will lose health insurance in Wisconsin because of Wisconsin's deadline to move people from BadgerCare to the federal health exchange.

"I take no solace in the fact that the rollout's not working because it ultimately affects people in my state, and I want to make sure those people are taken care of, and we'll find a way to do it," Gov. Walker said.

When Gov. Walker signed the budget over the summer, he rejected funds to expand Medicaid -- the government health insurance program for the poor and disabled, known in Wisconsin as BadgerCare.

Gov. Walker also changed BadgerCare's eligibility requirements.

BadgerCare used to provide coverage to adults with children under 19, and incomes up to two times the poverty line.

Under Gov. Walker's changes, all adults -- even those without children are eligible, but the income requirement was tightened to at the poverty line or below.

The changes are important because it means 92,000 people in Wisconsin are being moved off of BadgerCare who now have to find insurance via the federal health insurance exchange.

"Whether you agree with the Affordable Care Act, whether you agree with the decision by the state to move people from BadgerCare to the federal exchanges, that's not the issue.  The issue is in a real world sense, tens of thousands of people are going to lose their healthcare coverage beginning January 1st unless somebody says 'let's butt the ideology and the politics aside,'" Robert Kraig with Citizen Action Wisconsin said.

Kraig researches healthcare issues for Citizen Action of Wisconsin says the calendar is adding to the complications in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin deadline for those losing BadgerCare to sign up on the federal exchanges is set at December 15th -- but the federal deadline is actually three months later on March 31st.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin has sent a letter to Gov. Walker, urging him to delay the changes until then. Gov. Walker has urged Baldwin to focus on fixing the problems in Washington and let him handle Wisconsin.

"It was the Governor's decision to make the start up even more complicated by moving a lot of people off BadgerCare and moving them onto the marketplaces. That doesn't make a lot of sense with all the start up problems we've had, so it's within the power of the Governor and the Legislature to change that," Kraig said.

Gov. Walker is expected to announce his decision in the coming days.

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