Wisconsin seems to be ahead of the curve when it comes to instituting health insurance exchanges. The state has recently completed the infrastructure necessary for supporting the system in spite of stiff opposition from Governor Scott Walker. Walker has denounced the exchanges as an overstepping of the federal governments boundaries, a notion shared amongst several Republicans that have opposed the health care reform law.
According to the law, states are tasked with setting up a self-sustaining exchange program by 2014. If they fail to do so, the federal government will step in and establish one.
The state now has an automated eligibility system that will filter applicants into categories based on their needs. Officials are hoping that their accomplishments will encourage other states to follow in their footsteps. “Wisconsin has a bit of a head start,” says Department of Health Secretary Dennis Smith. “That’s one thing that makes this state a leader.”
While the Governor opposes the health care reform on a fundamental level, he believes that it is important for Wisconsin’s exchange program to be native to the state. Under the federal law, states have the option of running their own exchanges or relinquishing that responsibility to the government. Walker hopes that by operating the exchange internally, the state will play more of a central role in regulating the market.
The exchange program has the support of the state’s major insurers, most of who believe it will be healthy for market competition.
Wisconsin hopes to have a full-fledged exchange ready by the 2014 deadline.