Friday, May 27, 2011

BadgerCare is a lifeline for many

By Emeli-Mari Gaston-Friedl
May 26, 2011 |(8) Comments
As a BadgerCare recipient - and the mother of three children who have BadgerCare to thank for their good health, I have followed with great interest Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to cut $500 million from the program over the next two years. These cuts will have a real and lasting impact on families across the state, starting with mine.
Every day, I thank God for BadgerCare, for the prenatal care it provided me throughout each of my three pregnancies, for the regular check-ups that ensure my children stay healthy and strong and for the medicine we get when we are sick.
Because of BadgerCare, two of my children who suffer from chronic asthma - 6-year-old Genesis and 21-month-old Isaac - receive the inhalers, medicine and doctor visits they need to breathe clearly.
Because of BadgerCare, my husband - who has not had access to employer-sponsored insurance in two long years - is able to receive regular medical care, from routine check-ups and preventive care to emergency treatment for injuries sustained on the job.
BadgerCare was designed to protect Wisconsin's working families during times of high unemployment. Thankfully, my husband is working. But like many Wisconsinites, he has endured stretches of unemployment during this recession. BadgerCare has been a lifeline for us during these gaps, ensuring consistent health care so that when a job became available, he was ready and able to take it.
As our leaders in Madison consider the future of BadgerCare, it's important that they:
Don't throw working parents overboard. Parents in families of three or four both working minimum-wage jobs would be disqualified from BadgerCare under this budget plan - as many as 63,000 working parents in all. And low-wage workers offered employer-sponsored - but often unaffordable - insurance would likewise be dropped, leading to greater numbers of uninsured.
Don't reduce important benefits or eligibility requirements. Tough economic times are precisely when we should be investing in cost-effective programs like BadgerCare, not limiting its care. This program has helped us weather the storm, and with unemployment still high, many of us continue to rely on it. This is especially important for eligible non-parental adults who make up the Core Plan. I have a very close friend, a certified teacher unable to find work, who relies on BadgerCare for access to care. If he is forced out of BadgerCare, his only recourse for care will be costly emergency room visits.
Protect BadgerCare's affordability by keeping out-of-pocket costs low. Right now, my husband and I can afford our co-pays for doctor visits and prescriptions. However, any increase to out-of-pocket costs would severely compromise our ability to maintain regular check-ups and afford much-needed medicine, effectively rendering us uninsured.
Even small gaps in coverage can be catastrophic. Three years ago, my family temporarily lost our coverage, during which time Genesis came down with a cough. A doctor refused to see us for lack of insurance and ability to pay, and we couldn't afford to fill a prescription we received after visiting an emergency room. Genesis got sicker and sicker, and the cough became bronchitis.
It was not until our coverage was reinstated that we could get the prescription filled. Meanwhile, Genesis suffered for four months.
BadgerCare keeps us healthy, but it does more than that: It gives us hope for a better life. Because BadgerCare covers my family's health care costs, I'm able to take classes online to become an accountant while at the same time caring for my two youngest children. My hope once my children are old enough to begin school is to get a job that will provide me with private health insurance. But if we lose our BadgerCare coverage, I'll have to quit school and work full time at a job that might not provide insurance coverage in order to pay for health care for my family.
BadgerCare was created to provide low-income families like mine with access to quality, affordable health care.
Let's keep it that way.

This Link Is Worth Reading

Medicaid, the Budget, and Deficit Reduction: Keeping Score of the Threats.
From Families USA • May 2011:

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