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CMS Approves Special Enrollment for Wisconsin Residents Who Lost Coverage

By John Reichard, CQ HealthBeat Editor

September 4, 2014 -- Federals official have announced they'll give Wisconsinites who lost health coverage because of changes in the state's Medicaid program until Nov. 2 to obtain insurance on the federal marketplace.'s regular open enrollment period isn't scheduled to reopen until Nov 15.

"Coverage options are now available to the limited number of people who are no longer eligible for BadgerCare, after the state made changes to its Medicaid program earlier this year," Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in a statement.

Special enrollment periods are available in the case of certain "life events," such as the loss of a job or a divorce. The CMS statement cited "unique circumstances" to justify special enrollment for the Wisconsin residents who were affected.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., had written to CMS last week to request the special sign-up opportunity.

Last year, Republican Gov. Scott Walker and GOP legislators opted for partial expansion of BadgerCare rather than full expansion under the health law (PL 111-148, PL 111-152), according to reports. Walker said the federal government couldn't be counted on to stick with federal funding levels in the health law for a full expansion.
The partial expansion plan led some people to lose coverage.

According to Baldwin, Walker contended that 90 percent of former BadgerCare recipients would be able to line up coverage on the federal exchange.

"However, this promise was not kept for 60 percent, almost 38,000 individuals, of those terminated from BadgerCare coverage by Walker," Baldwin said in the press release.

Baldwin, who said Walker saw no need for the special enrollment period, said she hoped Walker would work to help those affected get coverage on the federal exchange.

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