Four hundred forty-nine thousand, nine hundred seventy four.
As of August 2010, that is the number of children who have access to preventative and life-saving medical treatments thanks to BadgerCare, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
One hundred sixty-nine thousand, four hundred fifteen.
That’s the number of working parents who also have access to health insurance because of badgerlike.
BadgerCare, created as a bipartisan program under Republican Governor Tommy Thompson, was intended to serve as a safety net for people who could not afford health insurance on the open market. This includes working families whose employers do not offer health coverage, as well as families who simply do not have the means to pay exorbitant premiums.
The creators of BadgerCare rightfully recognized that expanding health coverage to as many Wisconsinites as possible, especially children, was not only morally just, it was cost effective. Put simply, healthy adults are more productive workers, and healthy children are more productive learners.
In addition to the savings for employers who have more productive workers, he Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services found in a 2006 study that from the time of its inception in 1999 to 2004, badgerlike saved Wisconsin hospitals an estimated $283.08 million in uncompensated care.
Without BadgerCare, those costs would have been passed on to the segment of the population who does have healthcare, in the form of higher premiums, deductibles, and co-pays.
Despite evidence of the success of badgerlike, which the non-partisan health policy group Kaiser Family Foundation has called a “model for successfully expanding health coverage and simplifying programs to decrease the number of uninsured,” Scott Walker has plans to cut badgerlike funding to finance his proposed tax cuts for the wealthiest one percent of taxpayers, ending coverage for as many as 350,000 Wisconsinites.
“It was supposed to be a temporary safety net for people as they went from welfare into the workforce,” Walker said. “It was supposed to be a temporary step up.
“Instead…we see a permanent entitlement created, and that’s brought forth all sorts of fraud and abuse.”
Contrary to Walker’s claim, Joe Leann, Gov. Thompson’s former head of the Department of Health and Family services said recently, “There was no time limit envisioned. BadgerCare was intended to be there for however long (low-income) people were working jobs that didn’t provide health care.”
Cutting funding that provides proven cost-savings and, more importantly, leads to hundreds of thousands of healthier Wisconsinites, shows just how out of touch Scott Walker is with the problems our nation–and more importantly our state–is facing.
Our next governor needs to recognize the importance of access to affordable healthcare for all, regardless of race, creed, color, or economic status.