Wis. Governor Plans to Expand Healthcare Proposal to Help Farmers

July 27, 2006

The value of a farmer’s tractor and other equipment wouldn’t count as income when applying for health insurance under a program Gov. Jim Doyle is proposing.

At a town hall meeting Tuesday, Doyle said he plans to change how income is calculated for farmers in order to qualify for the BadgerCare Plus health insurance program currently under development.

Under the existing BadgerCare program, the depreciated value of equipment owned by farmers is counted as part of their income when determining eligibility. The new proposal would not count that depreciation income.

While the program would also apply to anyone who is self-employed, farmers are the most likely to be impacted by the depreciation issue, said Jason Helgerson, policy director for the state Department of Health and Family Services.

The department estimates that 13,227 adults who currently do not qualify under BadgerCare would with the more liberal income guidelines, Helgerson said.

The original BadgerCare was created for low-income children and their parents if they don’t have access to or resources to pay for an employer-sponsored health insurance plan.

The Department of Health and Family Services is in the process of developing the new BadgerCare Plus program, which would merge BadgerCare with other government programs providing health care coverage for children and families.

Helgerson said the agency would likely propose the new program as part of its budget request to state lawmakers in September.

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