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BadgerCare Basic premiums increase again

Monthly premiums have gone up for the third time this year for more than 3,500 childless adults on BadgerCare's bare-bones health plan.

Those in the state's BadgerCare Basic plan will pay $325 a month as of Nov. 1. The deadline was Wednesday to pay the November premium.

The plan was started a year ago to serve thousands on a waiting list for the full BadgerCare Plus program. Supporters promised the bare-bones plan would pay for itself with the help of a $1 million federal grant.

The state didn't replace the federal funding when the grant ran out, those on the plan were left with premium increases. They rose from $130 a month to $200 in March, $250 in September, and now $325.

The increases have reduced the number of people on the plan from around 6,000 to almost half that.

Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith says the premium increases couldn't be helped. Because of the funding pressure, officials recently said those who pay late are cut off with no chance to return.

Leopard frog kept off endangered list

The government says the northern leopard frog, found in Wisconsin and 18 other states, does not deserve federal protections as a threatened species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the frog is not in danger of extinction, and the frog's population in the western U.S. does not qualify as a distinct segment that can be considered for protections.

Environmental groups asked the government in 2006 for the federal protections.

Officials agree that the frog's population has been hurt by climate change, pollution, losses of habitat, diseases and invasive species. But the wildlife agency says the northern leopard frog is still considered to be widespread in the eastern U.S. and Canada.

This is the second time week that the wildlife service rejected federal protections for a species in Wisconsin. The agency said no on Monday to an endangered status for the Oklahoma grass pink orchid.