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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

 9:35 AM 

Dem delegation urges Walker to set up Wisconsin health insurance exchange

The four Dem members of Wisconsin's congressional delegation -- along with its newest member -- today asked Gov. Scott Walker to set up a Wisconsin-specific health insurance exchange under the federal health care reform law.

In a letter to the governor, U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl of Milwaukee, U.S. Sen.-elect Tammy Baldwin of Madison, U.S. Reps. Ron Kind of La Crosse and Gwen Moore of Milwaukee, and U.S. Rep.-elect Mark Pocan of Madison argue that exchanges are "transparent, consumer-friendly, and operate on free market principles," and that ceding control of Wisconsin's exchange to the federal government would result in long-term consequences for the state.

The Walker administration faces a Friday deadline to notify the Obama administration of its plans for an exchange. That date was also the deadline for states to outline their plans for specific exchanges, but U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has pushed that deadline back into December.

Should the state not pursue its own exchange or a hybrid state-federal program, the federal government will step in to set up an exchange. The governor's office has not signaled what it plans to pursue at the end of the week.

"With one of the strongest health care systems in the country, Wisconsin is uniquely positions to manage its own insurance marketplace," the letter reads. "Unfortunately, if your administration chooses to pass the responsibility to operate our exchange to the federal government, important decisions will be made in Washington instead of Wisconsin."

“Health insurance exchanges have previously had bipartisan support," added Kind in a statement from the five lawmakers. "Now is the time to put partisanship aside and do what is best for the people of Wisconsin.”


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