About 30 percent of the nearly 63,000 people who lost Medicaid coverage this year in Gov. Scott Walker’s budget signed up for health insurance on the federal exchange, or online marketplace, state officials said Wednesday.
That is well below the goal of at least 90 percent cited by the state Department of Health Services last year, before the troubled rollout of the federal exchange at healthcare.gov.
But officials said Wednesday that the state is poised to meet Walker’s goal of reducing the uninsured population by about half, or 225,000 people. More than 97,000 people have gained Medicaid coverage, and nearly 166,000 bought insurance on the individual market, on or off the exchange — though it’s unclear how many of them were previously uninsured.
“We’re well on our way toward reaching the governor’s goals,” deputy insurance commissioner Dan Schwartzer said at a news conference.
More than 38,000 of the 63,000 people who lost Medicaid are now without state or exchange coverage. Some may have obtained insurance through other means, which isn’t reflected in the data, but others are likely uninsured.
Walker’s likely Democratic opponent in this year’s governor’s race, Mary Burke, said in a statement that Walker’s decision to reject the full Medicaid expansion allowed under the Affordable Care Act was “irresponsible and political.”
“And yet again, we see the cost, 38,000 likely without health care,” Burke said.
Of 62,776 adults with incomes above the poverty level who lost Medicaid, or BadgerCare Plus, 18,801, or 30 percent, selected an insurance plan on the exchange, the health department said.
Some 5,859 others became eligible for Medicaid again or enrolled in Medicaid and the exchange. That leaves 38,116, or 61 percent, without either kind of insurance.
Some of the 38,116 could have gained coverage through a job, a spouse or on the private market outside of the exchange, health secretary Kitty Rhoades said. The figures released Wednesday are “not a complete picture of the health care coverage choices made by the transitioning BadgerCare Plus members,” Rhoades said in a statement.
But Jon Peacock, research director for the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, said the new figures are disappointing.
They reinforce the concern that the exchange is not a viable option for many low-income families who would be covered by Medicaid if Walker accepted full federal funding, he said.
Under Walker’s changes, only people earning less than the poverty level — $19,790 for a family of three — qualify for Medicaid.
Walker rejected federal money to fully cover people with incomes up to 133 percent of the poverty level, or $26,321 for a family of three, through 2016.
Later, the federal government will cover at least 90 percent of the costs, up from its usual share of 60 percent.
Of the 62,776 people who lost Medicaid under Walker’s plan, 34,915, or 56 percent, have incomes above 133 percent of the poverty level.
They would have lost Medicaid even under the full Medicaid expansion.
Meanwhile, 97,509 childless adults below the poverty level signed up for Medicaid under Walker’s plan, a total higher than expected. “We’re very encouraged,” deputy health secretary Kevin Moore said.
Some 133,655 residents signed up for coverage on the exchange this year, and another 32,127 bought health plans on the individual market off the exchange, according to a survey of insurers, deputy insurance commissioner Dan Schwartzer said.
“Probably a large percentage of those were uninsured,” Schwartzer said.
The state will help residents, especially the 38,000 people who lost Medicaid and don’t have state or exchange coverage, prepare for another enrollment period starting Nov. 15, Moore said.
“That’s the population, moving into November, that we will continue to focus on,” he said.