BadgerCare Referendums Draw Strong Support

Nov 5, 2014

Despite big Republican wins in Wisconsin elections Tuesday, voters went against the party line in supporting referendums on whether the state should accept federal Medicaid funds. 

Nineteen counties and the city of Kenosha had the question on the ballot, and all passed it with substantial margins.

69 percent of Oneida County voters said yes, the state should accept the federal dollars, with 70 percent in Iron County and 67 percent in Lincoln also voting in favor of the measure.

Robert Kraig of the progressive group Citizen Action of Wisconsin says it’s clear the issue of the healthcare isn’t strictly partisan.

“This shows that even in very Republican counties that supported Governor Walker very strongly, they still want the state to take the money and to strengthen the Badgercare program.”

Kraig calls it a mandate for Madison to act on the issue.  But it’s not clear the results will alter the course of the Walker administration. 

Speaking at a campaign stop before the election, Walker didn’t say whether he’d change his mind based on the referendum results, but defended his choice not to accept the money. 

“First time we’ve ever covered everyone living in poverty, now has access to healthcare.  And we did it without putting the taxpayers at risk.  That’s a pretty good deal for people all the way around..”

In Wisconsin people making at or below poverty level wages are eligible for Badgercare, and those who make more than that amount can shop for insurance on the federal exchange.

But health care advocates argue people who lost Badgercare coverage when the changes took effect still haven’t signed up for coverage as expected.