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Walker calls special session on BadgerCare

Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) has called a special session to deal with Medicaid (Richard Shiro/AP)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) will ask state legislators to keep more than 70,000 low-income residents on the state’s Medicaid program after the rocky rollout of the Affordable Care Act jeopardized their health-care coverage.

The legislature will meet next week to consider legislation delaying for three months Walker’s plan to move 77,500 patients off the BadgerCare Plus system and into the federal health-care exchange. The delay is necessary, Walker said, because the troubled rollout of the new health-care law means some low-income residents could lose their Wisconsin coverage before they receive replacement coverage through the federal exchange.

“The federal government failed to get its Web site fully operational, and it is irresponsible to force some Wisconsinites to pay the price for the federal government’s failure,” Walker said in a statement. “We need to give people more time.”

Walker has also proposed extending the Health Insurance Risk-Sharing Plan, which would provide a safety net as residents transition from the state plan to the federal exchange.

Under Walker, Wisconsin has refused to expand Medicaid through ObamaCare. The biennial budget requires adults with incomes over the federal poverty line to transition from Medicaid to the federal exchanges. The budget does expand BadgerCare to include about 82,000 adults with dependent children who live below the poverty line and who hadn’t been included in the program before.

Walker’s proposal would delay moving those 82,000 adults onto BadgerCare in order to pay for the continued coverage of the 77,500 who will eventually move to the federal exchanges.

The state assembly will take up Walker’s proposal Dec. 4, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported. The Senate is expected to take it up next week as well.

The special session comes after problems with the Web site, which have stymied efforts by many Wisconsinites to get new health care. Just 877 Wisconsin residents had picked a health-care plan through the federal marketplace as of Nov. 2, the Journal-Sentinel said.