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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

 12:12 PM 

Smith says health care reform would put Wisconsin health care at risk

Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith told the House Budget Committee today that Wisconsin will see little of the benefits promised under the federal health care reform law despite costing taxpayers an estimated $560 million annually.

"Wisconsin already has achieved the coverage rates aspired to under PPACA," Smith said, according to his prepared remarks. "We have a strong, competitive health insurance market, which we want to preserve and protect. All of the gains Wisconsin has made should not be put at risk."

Smith, confirmed by the state Senate as the new head of DHS Tuesday, was invited to testify as part of a hearing on the fiscal impact of the health care law scheduled by committee chairman Paul Ryan, R-Janesville.

He acknowledged that the state would see some cost reductions as citizens moved from other programs to new federal health care credits. But he countered that "it matters little to taxpayers whether they are paying for the cost of PPACA through their federal income tax to finance new entitlement spending or higher debt, their state income tax, their local property tax, or higher premiums."

Smith also argued that many of the promised benefits of the law "appear to be fading."

"Individuals indeed will lose their current coverage. The cost of health care continues to go up, not down," Smith said. "And most important of all, the promised level of savings for American families will not materialize."

Ryan, in his opening statement at the hearing, said his warning of "two futures" for America is exemplified in health care more than any other area.

"Down one path lies the managed decline of a government-run system on the verge of bankruptcy," Ryan said. "There is an alternative path and it is a path that leads to true choice and competition in health care. It is modeled after the health care system we ourselves in Congress enjoy. It puts patients first -- with providers competing for our business."

"But before we can get there, we must reject the notion that a centrally planned, bureaucratically run health care system can produce more favorable outcomes than one managed by doctors and patients."


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