Letter from Rep. Danou: Deferring to the Federal Government is a missed opportunityPresident Obama’s Affordable Care Act has been a topic of conversation at the state and federal level since the election.
By: Rep. Chris Danou , Pierce County Herald
President Obama’s Affordable Care Act has been a topic of conversation at the state and federal level since the election. While some may or may not agree with the law, it was passed by Congress, signed into law by the President and was ruled constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court this past summer. Currently, the law is moving forward as intended in states across the country but is receiving political resistance in Wisconsin.
When the Affordable Care Act was written and debated, lawmakers knew the bill couldn’t go into effect overnight and they specifically wrote the bill so states would have several years to plan for implementation. One of the provisions of the federal health care law required states to provide detailed plans for creating a health insurance exchange by November 16, 2012. However, several states, including Wisconsin, intentionally delayed implementation plans until after the presidential election. This was an obvious political gimmick because presidential elections don’t decide the law of the land. The Supreme Court does.
President Obama was re-elected to his second term and I remained optimistic that Governor Walker would move forward with the first step towards implementation. This first step, as written in the bill, allows for individual states to set up their own health insurance exchange or have the federal government create an exchange for the state. Instead of keeping this crucial first step in-house and in the hands of state control, the Governor decided to outsource this first step and deferred to the federal government. I believe this is a missed opportunity.
A properly created health exchange gives small business owners, farmers and self-employed people the same bulk-buying power experienced by larger companies. The exchange creates a marketplace that provides a fair comparison on private insurance plans so buying insurance is more transparent and competitive. Through greater transparency and competition, people would have greater access to quality health care and the overall cost would go down. Wisconsin would have significantly benefitted from setting up its own exchange and working in collaboration with all interested parties. Unfortunately, politics transcended sound policy.
I believe Wisconsin political leaders should make providing accessible and affordable health insurance to small business owners, farmers and those who are self-employed a top priority. We should stop making affordable health insurance a political issue and start making it a reality for Wisconsin residents. The best way to do this would be to work in a collaborative effort with all interested parties in the private and public sector so decisions are made in Wisconsin. The wrong way to implement health care is to give up state control and allow for the federal government to start up and run health care in Wisconsin.