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Plan to cover all kids in state starts today

The health plan to provide insurance coverage to all children in Wisconsin starts today.

The program called BadgerCare Plus was proposed by Gov. Jim Doyle. He said it provides an economical way for families to provide health insurance coverage for their children.

"BadgerCare Plus makes quality, affordable healthcare achievable," he said.

The program allows low-income families to enroll at no charge. However, a family of four whose household income is above $42,400 will pay a monthly premium.

Premiums are based on household income and top out at $90.74 a month for those earning above $63,600.

If one of the parent's employers provides health insurance and pays for 80 percent of the cost the family is not eligible, according to Stephanie Marquis, a Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services spokesperson.

"The program is focused on prevention," she said. "It is much lower cost for taxpayers if we provide prevention programs than to pay for people using the emergency rooms because they don't have health insurance."

The program is also open to pregnant women whose income is up to 300 percent above the federal poverty income level, approximately $51,510 for a family of three, according to the BadgerCare Plus Web site (http://dhfs.wisconsin.gov/badgercareplus/index.htm)

Funding for the program comes primarily from the federal government.

"Technically, it is a Medicaid program," Marquis said.

She noted that 21 different government health programs were rolled into one to create the BadgerCare Plus program.

"It's the biggest overhaul of Medicaid since the program started," Marquis said.

To apply for the program Marquis said that applicants should use the BadgerCare Plus Web site.

"Our access site is a secure site and their information will be safe," she said.

Marquis added that DHFS is concentrating on an outreach program to sign people up for the program.

"We are trying to take the program where families are like the YMCA, the Scouts and other civic groups," she said.

Brady Bautch can be contacted at internet@rivertowns.net.

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