February 19, 2021

Wisconsin would start health insurance marketplace, public option under Gov. Tony Evers’ budget | Local News

The Affordable Care Act’s federal marketplace is at healthcare.gov. AP PHOTO David Wahlberg | Wisconsin…

The Affordable Care Act’s federal marketplace is at healthcare.gov.

Wisconsin would create a state-based health insurance marketplace and a public option plan in which people likely could buy into BadgerCare, the state’s main Medicaid program, under Gov. Tony Evers’ proposed budget.

The moves could save the state money and provide insurance for many who might lose coverage if the Affordable Care Act is struck down, the governor’s office said. Twenty-one states have state-based marketplaces and at least two — Colorado and Washington — are known to be pursuing public option programs.

“A public option will provide an affordable alternative for many Wisconsinites who struggle to pay their medical bills and cannot afford the copayments, deductibles and other cost-sharing requirements of plans offered on the marketplace,” according to a summary of Evers’ budget.

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The proposals are in addition to Medicaid expansion, which would save the state $634 million by tapping additional federal funds and cover 90,900 additional people while expanding benefits such as addiction treatment and enabling more payments to providers such as hospitals and nursing homes, Evers said. That measure is likely to be rejected by the Republican-controlled Legislature, as it was in Evers’ 2019 budget.

Instead of using the health law’s federal marketplace to provide insurance to people who don’t get coverage through jobs or government plans, Wisconsin would spend $2.1 million to start its own marketplace, initially on the federal platform in 2023 and fully state-based in 2024.