On Friday, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker sent a letter to HHS Secretary Sebelius indicating that the Badger State will not create a state insurance exchange or be involved in a state-federal partnership under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
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. 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. Unfortunately, operating a state exchange would not provide the flexibility to meet our state’s unique needs or to protect our state’s taxpayers.
Therefore, after much consideration and outreach with citizens across the state, and in the best interest of the taxpayers of Wisconsin, we have determined Wisconsin will not develop a partnership or state-based exchange
Tenth Amendment Center Communications director Mike Maharrey said Walker’s concern with the lack of state control gets at the root of the problem.
“Nobody with an ounce of sense actually thinks that the same federal government that gave you the $600 toilet seat is going to effectively and efficiently run a health care system for 350 million Americans. But more importantly, it’s illegal for them to try. The Constitution delegates the feds no such power. States should block this thing on that principle alone,” he said. “Unfortunately, a lot of these governors aren’t willing to make that principled stand. But at least they recognize that a federally mandated and controlled system will be a disaster for their states, and they are taking steps to gum up the works.”
Walker joins a growing list of governors who have indicated they don’t plan to move forward with implementing a state-run insurance exchange.
“The feds depend on state cooperation to make these huge programs work. If a large number of states refuse to set these exchanges up, it puts and increasing burden on the federal bureaucracy, one I’m not convinced they are really prepared to deal with. Hopefully, it will lead to more aggressive action to block implementation down the road,” Maharrey said.
Maharrey noted a very important missing ingredient in Walker’s letter, the Constitution.
“I would rather see Walker a more principled stand – I mean come right out and say, ‘This thing is unconstitutional and a usurpation of state power. We will not comply.’ But his reasons seem much more pragmatic than principled,” he said. “Still, it’s the right decision, and I count it as a positive.”
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