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Genrich, Hansen - BadgerCare

The "BadgerCare for All" bill, introduced by Rep. Eric Genrich, D-Green Bay, and Sen. LaTonya Johnson, D-Milwaukee, would make BadgerCare a public option available to anyone in Wisconsin through the federal health insurance exchange.

BadgerCare would be available to all Wisconsinites rather than only low-income residents under a Democratic proposal announced Wednesday. 

The "BadgerCare for All" bill, introduced by Rep. Eric Genrich, D-Green Bay, and Sen. LaTonya Johnson, D-Milwaukee, would make BadgerCare a public option available to anyone in Wisconsin through the federal health insurance exchange.

The plan offers a "common sense, affordable, high quality solution," Genrich said in a news conference.

"At a time when politicians in Washington are meeting behind closed doors about the future of health care, we’re having a public conversation about our needs as Wisconsinites," Genrich said.

The proposal comes as Republican members of Congress are working on an effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the health care law passed under President Barack Obama that created the federal exchange.

It also follows news that Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield is exiting the federal exchange in Wisconsin, blaming an unstable market. Republican politicians have said decisions like that make the argument for repealing Obamacare.

But Genrich and several Democratic lawmakers, along with the liberal group Citizen Action of Wisconsin, said Wisconsin should focus on providing a state-based solution like their plan. They agreed there is room to improve the Affordable Care Act, but said their proposal would ensure access to coverage for everyone in Wisconsin regardless of what is done at the federal level.

"We all have a pre-existing condition, and it’s the human one," Genrich said. "The failure to recognize that common bond is what has doomed the Republican effort to offer a viable alternative to the Affordable Care Act."

BadgerCare was created under Republican former Gov. Tommy Thomson as a way to give health care coverage to low-income Wisconsin residents who made too much money to qualify for Medicaid.

The bill does not have any Republican cosponsors, Genrich said.

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Jessie Opoien covers state government and politics for the Capital Times. She joined the Cap Times in 2013 and has also covered Madison life, race relations, culture and music. She has also covered education and politics for the Oshkosh Northwestern.