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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

 3:20 PM 

BadgerCare Basic gets sent back to committee

Saying his caucus members wanted to "take a longer look at it," Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker today sent the bill to establish the BadgerCare Plus Basic plan back to the Senate Organization Committee.

The Senate Democrats took a longer than usual caucus today to discuss the bill. There were eight amendments offered to the bill today, the last summing up provisions in many of the previous amendments.

The program, with its benefit and administrative costs paid for by the premiums of enrollees, is not expected to have a short- or long-term fiscal impact.

The final amendment, authored by Dem Sens. Jim Sullivan, Pat Kreitlow and Kathleen Vinehout, all of whom are freshmen considered to be in tough re-election fights, requires monthly checks by the Department of Health Services to verify an individual continues to meet eligibility criteria. It also requires that the department provide information to applicants compare premium costs and benefits offered in the Health Insurance Risk-Sharing Plan and under the BadgerCare Basic plan.

If an applicant is under 27, the amendment requires that they be notified that they may be eligible for coverage as a dependent under their parent's health plan.

In addition, the amendment requires quarterly reports by the DHS to the Joint Finance Committee about the financial condition of the plan, any changes in benefits or premiums, information about applicants and enrollees who have been ruled ineligible, and demographic information on enrollees.

Another amendment, authored by Vinehout, would limit enrollees to two years on the plan.

Senate Minority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, initially opposed the motion to send the bill back to committee.

"We're here. It's scheduled. We're ready to debate it," Fitzgerald said.

Decker, D-Weston, said members simply want more time to consider the bill.

Fitzgerald withdrew his objection, but said he had heard there were "some serious issues" emerging among Senate Dems, and that he hoped "there is no arm-twisting going on" to round up votes for the bill.


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