We all have something at stake when it comes to health care reform implementation, or lack thereof – and we all have a voice through our vote. Our 5 day blog series, “5 Questions to Ask Yourself, Before June 5th” is an opportunity for you to learn and share what the upcoming election means for health care reform implementation and women’s health in Wisconsin. Wisconsin women need leaders and policymakers who are on board with giving women and their families more affordable and accessible health care options and choices. Voting is one of the most important ways you can raise your voice for women’s health. If you need more information on where to vote or how to register, visit wisconsinvote.org.
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the health care reform law, state health insurance Exchanges – or “one-stop shops” to purchasing private coverage after 2014 – are intended to provide individuals with afforadble, accessible ways to get health insurance. Women are most likely to make health care desicisons for their familes – making the ACA and Exchanges a win for Wisconsin women.
Further, as we discussed yesterday, with the tough economy and a decline in quality coverage through employers, Exchanges are a win for Wisconsin’s middle-class. To help pay for premiums, for instance, moderate-income indviduals will be eligible for tax credits. Individuals will also be able to be screened for public covearge, compare qualified private plans, select a coverage plan, and apply for tax credits all through the Exchange.
Wisconsin’s Exchange Development Profile
Unfortunately, Wisconsin’s current Governor has halted Exchange development, setting us up for a federal takeover of Exchange development in Wisconsin. But that wasn’t always the case, afterall, Wisconsin is a known leader for helath care options. In fact, in September 2010 Wisconsin received $1 million in an Exchange Planning grant and, in February 2011, an Early Innovator grant of $37.7 million.
Under Governor Doyle, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) starting looking into the information technology needed for a state Exchange. Then, in December 2010, Wisconsin launched an online Exchange prototype. The administration changed, and on January 27, 2011, Governor Walker created the Office of Free Market Health Care in an effort to “conditionally develop a plan for the design and implementation of Wisconsin health benefit exchange that utilizes a free-market.” Everything seemed to be moving forward – and Wisconsin was poised to see even more coverage options in the near future.
Unfortunately, the direction has changed, and so did our health Exchange momentum. Governor Walker, almost a year after the development of the Office of Free Market Health Care, changed his mind – and signed an Executive Order to close the department. He also announced the state would “discontinue any development on a health exchange.” Then, in January of this year, Walker announced the state would not draw down the Early Innovator grant money.
Our current Governor has made it clear that the brakes have been put on health care reform implementation – including developing a state-specific Exchange. Prior to this, Wisconsin was well on it’s way to ensuring middle-class women and families in Wisconsin had access to affordable coverage thorough the state Exchange. June 5th will undoubtedly tell us what direction Wisconsin will continue (or not continue) to go.
Check out tomorrow’s question 4 blog: What are Wisconsin leaders doing to make sure that we, as consumers, are being protected from discriminatory insurance practices?