Governor Still Undecided on Obamacare

August 17, 2012

On July 12, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker wrote an extensive op-ed in the Washington Post outlining his concerns about the Affordable Care Act (also known as the ACA or “Obamacare”) and its potential impact on Wisconsin. That same day, Governor Walker made the following statement, which was quoted in the Post: “We still haven’t made a final decision, but we’re going to look at it very closely. I put $1.2 billion—which is more money than any governor in history in Wisconsin had done—into Medicaid already. So, obviously, we have some real concerns about whether or not that’s going to increase costs more than what they’ve been in the past. . . . [W]e have much more generous Medicaid benefits under BadgerCare than most states do already.”

Governor Walker’s view on Obamacare

In Governor Walker’s op-ed, he cited an actuarial study that was commissioned by then-Governor Jim Doyle. The study made the following predictions if Obamacare is implemented in Wisconsin:

  • Approximately 100,000 people will be dropped by their employer-sponsored health insurance.
  • Most people who buy their own health insurance (59 percent) will experience an average premium increase of 31 percent.
  • Approximately 150,000 people will stop buying health insurance in the private sector and become dependent on the government and taxpayers.
  • Between 2014 and 2019, Obamacare could cost Wisconsin taxpayers $1.12 billion (after all federal aid and tax credits are applied, the state’s portion of the bill will be $433 million).
  • Approximately 122,000 parents, caretakers, and pregnant women whose income is more than 133 percent of the federal poverty level will no longer be eligible for Medicaid.

Governor Walker believes that currently, approximately 90 percent of Wisconsinites are covered by health insurance, which is the third highest percentage among states in the country. As a consequence, he thinks Obamacare punishes states like Wisconsin that have been proactive on the issue of health care.

Bottom line

As discussed in our lead article, the presidential election may have a great impact on the future of Obamacare. If Mitt Romney is elected, it’s likely that some portions of it may never be implemented. However, if President Barack Obama is reelected, major provisions of the Act will take effect in 2013 and 2014. For example, beginning in 2014, seasonal employees who work more than 120 days per year will be included in the 50-employee floor for employers that will be covered by Obamacare. Employers with 50 or more employees that do not provide health insurance will be fined for providing inadequate or no insurance. We will continue to report on developments related to Obamacare, including how Governor Walker decides to proceed.

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