This morning, Governor Walker sent a letter to the DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, informing the federal government that Wisconsin is declining the opportunity to create a state-run exchange program and will default to a federal Exchange.
Even though President Obama’s Administration offered another deadline extension to governors, Walker issued a statement of explanation citing a lack of details and cooperation from the federal government, along with these “facts”:
- “The long-term risk to Wisconsin taxpayers is too high.”
- “No matter who sets up and administers the exchange, the federal government makes all the decisions and the final product is the same.”
- “PPACA does not allow for a uniquely Wisconsin option.”
By passing up this opportunity to have a state-run Exchange, we believe that Governor Walker is hurting the interests of Wisconsin. In addition to losing decision-making power over the insurance plans available in the exchange, the details of the Essential Health Benefits, the plan costs, and how easily individuals can compare plans, our state has given up on the opportunity to keep regulating the individual and small business markets as we have done in the past.
We agree with the Governor when he states that “we have a long history of being a leader on health reform issues” but even though our current system reaches 90% of the population, we believe that 100% of Wisconsin should have the opportunity to access the healthcare they need – and that doesn’t mean emergency room services or going without care. And it also doesn’t mean that people who have insurance are getting the care they need. Many women in Wisconsin are underinsured, and are going without the care they need because of expensive co-pays, deductibles, and the scope of benefits they deserve.
While this decision will definitely influence the shape of healthcare in Wisconsin, and we at the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health have expressed disappointment with the Governor’s decision, we do look forward to the opportunity to work with the federal government to create a robust exchange that increases access to quality, affordable care for Wisconsin women and families.