Kapanke ad

A screenshot of Wisconsin Senate candidate Dan Kapanke’s ad released Wednesday, which says BadgerCare “gives every Wisconsin resident access to health insurance.”

An ad released Wednesday by Republican Dan Kapanke’s campaign for state Senate celebrated Kapanke’s support for BadgerCare Plus and said the safety-net program gives all Wisconsinites healthcare coverage.

“It’s affordable and gives every Wisconsin resident access to health insurance,” the ad’s narrator says, suggesting all Wisconsinites have insurance through the program, which restricts enrollment based on annual income and other factors.

Kapanke, who is running against Sen. Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse and independent Chip Denure for the 32nd District Senate seat, said the ad refers to the BadgerCare Plus expansion in 2013 proposed by Gov. Scott Walker, which allowed more people in poverty and Wisconsin’s most vulnerable to get coverage under the state’s Medicaid program.

“Wisconsin has no gaps in coverage for people,” Kapanke said. “Everybody has the opportunity to get health care coverage.”

Kapanke said that makes the state unique among other Republican-controlled states which rejected Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act, the majority of which were left with a coverage gap, with large numbers of people with incomes above the Medicaid eligibility limit, but below the lower limit for premium tax credits to buy insurance in the marketplace.

Under the expansion, childless adults with an income below the federal poverty level became eligible for BadgerCare Plus, giving about 145,000 Wisconsinites coverage under the Medicaid program. Adults with incomes above the federal poverty level were no longer eligible and were directed to the federal marketplace and given the tax credits.

“From there on, Obamacare is supposed to get it and if you’re low income, you’re supposed to get the credits,” Kapanke said.

Kapanke criticized Shilling’s vote against the governor’s plan, which made Wisconsin the first state to both reject the additional federal funding and expand Medicaid.

“We rejected the federal funds and some of the other states took them, and they’re experiencing some real difficulties,” Kapanke said.

Shilling criticized the ad as “misleading,” citing the claim that BadgerCare gives “every Wisconsin resident access to healthcare.”

“It doesn’t. It’s a limited safety net,” Shilling said, adding that she has also always advocated BadgerCare expansion.

Shilling co-sponsored legislation to expand BadgerCare with the federal funding, which she said would have enrolled an additional 80,000 people in BadgerCare and saved Wisconsin taxpayers $1 billion during six years, citing a study by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

“When it comes to my opponent, I think he’s trying to rewrite history and cover up the fact that he has repeatedly sided with Gov. Walker when it comes to health care,” Shilling said. “I’ve fought to expand access to health care and stand up for women’s rights to reproductive health care.”

Kapanke criticized the Affordable Care Act as unaffordable and referred to Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton’s comments last week, when the Democrat called the controversial healthcare law “no longer affordable to increasing numbers of people” and told reporters the law needs reform, despite its “many good features.”

Premiums are expected to rise by 50 to 67 percent next year in Minnesota and several insurers pulled out of the state’s marketplace. In Wisconsin, premiums are expected to rise an average of 16 percent.

“It’s a good thing we did not take that money or we would be in the same boat as Minnesota in all likelihood,” Kapanke said.

Kapanke pointed out that Walker has fully-funded the Medicaid budget each year he’s been in office.

Shilling defended her support of the Affordable Care Act, saying while it wasn’t perfect, it has been a lifesaver for people with pre-existing conditions and young people who are able to stay on their parents’ insurance.

“Premiums were going up before the Affordable Care Act was put in place and that is part of the challenge of making sure that health care remains affordable and there is some consistency in costs,” Shilling said.

The 32nd District includes the towns of Angelo, Adrian, Tomah, Leon, Wells, Ridgeville, Wilton, Portland, Jefferson, Sheldon and Wellington and villages of Norwalk, Wilton, Melvina and Cashton in Monroe County.

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Jourdan Vian is a reporter and columnist covering local government and city issues for the La Crosse Tribune. You can contact her at 608-791-8218.

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