Gov. Walker Will Not Build State Health Insurance Exchange
The state will still have a health insurance exchange, something required under Obamacare, but the federal government will create and run it.
Gov. Scott Walker sent a letter Friday to the federal government that he will not build a state-based health insurance exchange.
The letter was addressed to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and outlines the governer's basic objection to any of the options offered.
"No matter which option is chosen, Wisconsin taxpayers will not have meaningful control over the health care policies and services sold to Wisconsin residents," Walker's letter reads.
The options mandated by the Affordable Care Act are as follows: an exchange built and managed by an individual state subject to federal control; a partnership plan requiring the state to perform functions on behalf of the federal government; or a federal exchange developed by the federal government.
"In Wisconsin, we have been successful in providing health insurance coverage to over 90 percent of state residents without the creation of an exchange and absent federal regulation," the letter continues. "We have a long history of being a leader on health reform issues, and with more guidance and greater state flexibility, our competitive market system would have ensured health insurance coverage to the most vulnerable Wisconsinites without federalization of our market."
The Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, though they supported the creation of the exchange, stand behind Walker's decision.
“While WMC supported the creation of a Wisconsin-specific exchange, we acknowledge that Governor Walker makes a good case for not doing so. As the state’s largest business association, our mandate is to help our members navigate through the burdensome requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA),” said Kurt R. Bauer, president/CEO of WMC, in a written statement.
Some Wisconsin lawmakers want to be able to arrest officials who implement Obamacare. In a story from The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Rep. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, is one of nine state Republicans who want the healthcare law declared illegal, giving police the ability to arrest officials who try to enact the law despite the US Supreme Court's ruling that the ACA is not unconstitutional.
"Just because Obama was re-elected does not mean he's above the constitution," Kapenga is quoted as saying.
Other state legislators who have publicly announced their support for this stance include Sen. Mary Lazich, New Berlin; Rep. Don Pridemore, Hartford; Rep. Erik Severson, Star Prairie; Tom Larson, Colfax; and Scott Krug, Wisconsin Rapids. The list rounds out with three newly elected Republicans: Rob Hutton, Brookfield; Mark Born, Beaver Dam and Dave Murphy, Greenville.
Walker, though, doesn't think arresting officials is such a great idea.
In response to an inquiry from Democratic Rep. Jon Richards, Cullen Werwie, Walker's spokesperson, said, "Governor Walker doesn't support arresting people for implementing federal law."
Ohio on Tuesday also refused to create a state-based health insurance exchange.
“We still think it’s best at this time to let the federal government run the exchange," Ohio's Republican lieutenant governor Mary Taylor said in a story running on The Huffington Post.
But, by not building a Wisconsin-based health insurance exchange, Walker's decision hands complete control over to the federal govenment.
Still, Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, the newly elected Speaker of the Assembly here at home, supports Walker's decision.
"I vehemently oppose Obamacare as it is a major step toward socialized medicine which I am against. The individual and their doctor should make health care decisions not government bureaucrats," he said in a written statement. "The reality is, like it or not, Wisconsin will have an exchange. I'm pleased that Governor Walker had the best interest of Wisconsin taxpayers' in mind when he made this decision."