Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has announced that the state will put a halt to its plans to form a health insurance exchange for the time being. Governor Walker claims that further work on an exchange program would be a waste of time if the Supreme Court declares the federal Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. The law requires all states to build a health insurance exchange by 2014. If states fail to meet the deadline, the federal government will take charge and build one itself. Governor Walker’s halting of the program could mean that the government will take control of the state’s exchange, if the law passes the Supreme Court.
State legislators are faced with many decisions concerning exchange programs. Such as what regulations should govern the programs and how much flexibility insurers will have in the new system. Lawmakers have been having trouble forming plans to build exchanges due to the lack of guidance provided by the federal government. The Department of Health and Human Services, the agency that oversees the exchange initiative, claims that the lack of guidance is meant to provide states will more power in forming the programs.
Governor Walker is opposed to the federal law and believes that it will not survive the Supreme Court. Health care and consumer advocates, however, say that the exchange is necessary in order to ensure that consumers have access to affordable health insurance. Depending on how events play out in the future, the state may have to return $37 million in federal grants that were meant to help build the exchange program.