Wisconsin officials react to Walker's health exchange decision

12:44 PM, Nov. 16, 2012  |  Comments
Tammy Baldwin
Tammy Baldwin
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Gov. Scott Walker said Friday that Wisconsin won't set up a virtual marketplace for connecting consumers with private health insurance plans, ceding control to the federal government as Republican governors in other states have also done.

Here's what Wisconsin officials had to say about Walker's decision:

U.S. Senator-elect Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat:

"The people of Wisconsin sent a clear message last week that they wanted to move Wisconsin and our country forward by having both parties put progress ahead of politics.

"I joined others in reaching out to Governor Walker and made it clear I was committed to working with him to advance health care reforms that work for Wisconsin. Instead of leading and working together to move a "made in Wisconsin" health insurance marketplace forward, Governor Walker chose to pass the buck and reject the opportunity to take ownership of this issue.

"I will not let politics stand in the way of progress; that is not what I was elected to do. I remain committed to bringing people together to make health care reform work for Wisconsin. I will work to ensure Wisconsin families and businesses get what they deserve: a health insurance marketplace that provides affordable and accessible choices, strengthens Wisconsin's economic security, and moves our state forward."

Minority Leader Peter Barca, a Democrat:

"Gov. Walker repeatedly said he would see how the election goes, and the people of Wisconsin overwhelmingly voted for the candidate who wanted to make sure all families have health insurance even if they have a pre-existing condition or have reached insurance caps.

"Ceding our local control on health care exchanges not only puts Wisconsin on the extreme fringe - it puts politics above health care for Wisconsin citizens.

"In Wisconsin we have always led the nation in innovative approaches and programs in health care, such as BadgerCare, SeniorCare and Family Care and it would be a shame to back away from that tradition.

"Groups as diverse as Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and the AFL-CIO favor these exchanges. Our health care providers and level of access consistently rank near the top nationally. Over the past year, that leadership was undermined by the GOP decision to cause 21,500 to lose their health care. Today's announcement will put Wisconsin among the most extreme states in the nation and once again undermine our state's prior leadership on health care access and quality.

"We have heard a lot of talk in the days following the election about the need to put our differences aside to work in a bipartisan fashion to benefit the middle class families of Wisconsin. Actions speak louder than words and this decision speaks volumes about the extreme direction Governor Walker is once again taking Wisconsin."

State Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills:

"For a program that was passed two years ago, the federal government still isn't releasing enough details on how ObamaCare will affect states. It would be irresponsible to commit our state to a program that isn't fully defined yet. This leaves our state with a decision between a bad option and one that is worse.

"Wisconsin has long been a leader in covering nearly all of its residents with health insurance. We also have excellent health care providers throughout the state. It is doubtful that the federal government will allow Wisconsin to use all of its advantages in a state exchange.

"I fully support Governor Walker's decision to not set up a state exchange."

State Rep. Jim Steineke, R-Vandenbroek:

"While it would have been preferable to have more local control over the health insurance exchanges, there is little chance there would have been enough local control to offset the many negative consequences of taking full or partial responsibility for creating the exchanges.

"I understand that there are many pros and cons to creating a state-based health insurance exchange. Ultimately, the governor had both the authority and the responsibility to make this decision since it is his duty is to protect the best interests of Wisconsin citizens."

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