Walker Decides Not to Set Up a Wisconsin Health Exchange

The Obama administration is out with a report showing 28 states are making progress setting up online marketplaces to buy health insurance. But Wednesday (1/18) Wisconsin’s governor said he will not implement a state health exchange. In December, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said he’d wait to see whether the U.S. Supreme Court upholds federal health reform. He’s no longer waiting; Gov. Walker said in a statement that health reform has the potential to hurt Wisconsin’s economy and there will be no state exchange. Barbara Zabawa is an attorney on the state’s advisory group for exchanges. She says even though some states are moving ahead and others are refusing, the dispute over health reform isn’t likely to be resolved after the Supreme Court rules, “My guess is that the 2012 elections are really going to determine the fate of the law though it will be difficult, I think, to repeal.”

That’s because some elements of law are already in place: for instance, seniors are paying less for prescriptions when they reach the so called ‘donut hole’ and pre-existing conditions can’t prevent children from getting insurance.

Exchanges are a key element of the Affordable Care Act. They will allow middle class Americans to get subsidized private coverage and expand Medicaid to more low income persons.

Gov. Walker says Wisconsin will not accept a $37 million grant from the federal government and he’s also getting rid of the Office of Free Market Health Care. The state’s decision not to create its own exchange could lead to the federal government creating one for Wisconsin.