Due to the failed federal rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Governor Scott Walker announced he will be calling a special session of the Legislature to take up legislation to move forward with a three-month delay through March 31, 2014, in the implementation for people in Wisconsin moving into health care plans in the federal exchange. Governor Walker also announced a three-month extension for the state's high-risk insurance plan, known as the Health Insurance Risk-Sharing Plan (HIRSP), to provide a safety net during the transition for some of the state's most vulnerable.
"In Wisconsin, we are taking action to protect our citizens from the federal government's failure," said Governor Walker. "We will take care of the people of our state and not let them slip through the cracks. This delay will give Wisconsinites additional time, but the federal government must fix the issues with its health care exchange, so our people can make a logical transition."
After the difficulties many have experienced in using the federal exchange and seeing the dismal enrollment numbers from the federal government, it is necessary to protect Wisconsinites from the failure of the federal government's rollout of the Affordable Care Act.
In addition, Governor Walker called on President Barack Obama's Administration to open up Wisconsin's competitive market to all consumers and allow those who qualify for subsidies to use them to purchase any qualified health plan, not just those listed in the exchange. Currently, those who qualify for subsidies can only use those subsidies on health plans listed on the federal exchange. By allowing people to use their subsidies in the private market and not just on the exchange, they will have more insurance provider options all offering ACA-qualified plans. Wisconsinites can access a full list of insurers offering health insurance plans in their counties at the following link.
"Since the federal exchange is not working, it only makes sense to allow Wisconsinites, who are eligible for subsidies, to use those subsidies to access qualified health care plans in the private market," said Governor Walker. "In many counties, people will have more insurer options off the exchange than they do on it. Let people use their subsidies with the insurers of their choice."
The Wisconsin plan reforms the Medicaid entitlement to preserve it for the neediest, while protecting our taxpayers from uncertainty related to the federal government's funding. For the first time in our state, Wisconsin will provide health coverage for everyone living in poverty through Medicaid and allow those above that level to access health insurance through the exchanges or the private market. Governor Walker's reforms will not be changing, but will be delayed by three months to help ensure a smooth transition for the 77,000 Wisconsinites who will now be moving into health insurance plans through the exchanges.
Wisconsin was ready to move forward, but the federal government clearly was not. In Wisconsin, the Department of Health Services (DHS) and the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) have implemented extensive outreach efforts to help those transitioning into health plans on the exchanges. DHS contacted those transitioning onto the exchange several times by mail and by phone to make sure they were aware of the changes in their eligibility and to provide them with information about how to enroll in health insurance in the exchanges. Just this week, DHS sent out letters to the approximately 77,000 individuals transitioning into the federal exchange with paper applications and directions about how to fill out the applications and turn them in.