NEWS BLOG (WSAU) Governor Walker doesn’t like Obamacare. The last polls suggested that about 50-percent of us don’t like it either.
Walker’s position was clear. He hoped Mitt Romney would win the election and would repeal or scale back health care reform. The Governor delayed setting up the required health insurance exchanges because of it. Obviously that isn't the way things worked out. After the Supreme Court ruling last summer and the election results last week, Obamacare has survived and is indeed moving forward.
Walker now has a choice to make. He can set up the health exchanges, or the feds will do it for us. His deadline is Friday. His decision is coming in the next 48-hours.
This shouldn’t even be a hard choice. Of course the state needs to set up its own exchanges. Doing so doesn’t mean the Governor had a change of heart. And it doesn’t mean he’s bowing down to Washington.
States are being given a chance to shape the kinds of health care policies that will be offered to their residents. States and the feds are going to subsidize the costs of insurance for those who can’t afford them. I can think of three specific areas where state taxpayers would benefit. First, the state can set up low-cost insurance that meets only the minimum federal requirements. Having the least coverage for the lowest cost should, indeed, be an option for people who are young and healthy. The federal ‘low cost’ option would likely include much more than the state’s ‘low cost’ choice. Second, the state can offer high-end expensive coverage that might be beyond what the feds would ok. We can stipulate that state subsidies for the Cadillac coverage would be limited, and people who choose it will have to pay the freight on their own. Still, having the option available could help attract smaller, start-up companies to the state that may want to dangle that lavish perk in front of new employees. Lastly when the state sets up its own exchange, it will have control over how many options are offered and how much competition there will be between those plans. The competition to get people within the exchange to choose one plan over another is one of the best tool we have to control quality and costs. The state should not give that up to another layer of government.
Critics of health care reform have had their wake-up call. They lost. Obamacare is a reality. Allowing the feds to set up our exchange where they control the choices and costs is foolish and counter-productive -- making a bad situation worse. It ultimately hurts the taxpayer. Governor Walker knows this. He’ll shed his ideology, and will set up a Wisconsin exchange.