The math, for now, works like this: 81,731 adults added to BadgerCare minus 62,776 adults dropped from the program equals a net gain of nearly 19,000 people.
That suggests some progress for the state’s main Medicaid health insurance plan. More childless adults at or below poverty now have BadgerCare coverage.
But the most telling number is still to come.
How many of those adults who lost BadgerCare because they earn more than poverty wages have successfully transitioned to Obamacare?
The Walker administration says that number won’t be available until June. OK. Wisconsin can wait a few more weeks for this key indicator of success or failure.
But voters shouldn’t have to wait longer than that. A major election is approaching. And few issues have drawn more attention and debate than health care and health insurance.
The federal Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, offered Wisconsin more than $100 million in extra Medicaid dollars over two years to expand BadgerCare.
Gov. Scott Walker rejected the dollars, citing concern the federal government might renege on its pledge to continue funding most of the cost into the future.
Instead, Walker guaranteed BadgerCare for all adults at or below poverty, some of whom had been shut out. At the same time, he pledged to transition those just above the poverty line from BadgerCare to Obamacare.
Turning down the federal money was riskier for Wisconsin than taking it would have been. That’s because the immediate funding from Washington was real, while the cuts Walker fears in the future are speculation.
Nonetheless, Walker’s path can work for Wisconsin if his administration meets its goal of moving “at least 90 percent” of the adults dropped from BadgerCare to ObamaCare.
If that happens, Wisconsin should have broader insurance coverage similar to what it could have had if Walker had taken the extra Medicaid dollars.
America’s health care system is incredibly complicated, especially with Obamacare and its botched launch.
Yet one number won’t lie: The number of people who have health insurance in Wisconsin.
Walker needs to steer more people from BadgerCare into Obamacare for his Medicaid bet to fly.