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Groups want Walker to have state run exchange

Associated Press Published: November 11, 2012
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"Wisconsin must retain authority, flexibility and leverage — tools that will keep us on the path to achieving true reform and preserve our leading edge health care system as a Wisconsin strength," said Eric Borgerding, executive vice president of the Wisconsin Hospitals Association. "WHA believes the correct choice for Wisconsin is steering its own course. That means, to the greatest extent possible, operating a Wisconsin-run health insurance exchange."

That is a view shared by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state's chamber of commerce, the Wisconsin chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, as well as the Wisconsin Association of Health Plans, which represents 12 community-based health plans, and advocacy groups that push for even more government control of health care.

"Our preference all along has been to encourage Wisconsin to support a state-run exchange, as opposed to a federally facilitated exchange," said Phil Dougherty, senior executive officer of the Wisconsin Association of Health Plans, which represents health plans covering about 1.1 million people in Wisconsin. "We think that would put Wisconsin in the best position to preserve and build on the strengths of a strong, competitive market."

On Thursday, 18 Democratic state lawmakers wrote Walker a letter urging him to create a bipartisan working group to draft a plan.

Wisconsin Citizen Action, an advocacy group that supports a single-payer system, is also calling on Walker to create a state-run exchange but only if it's one that meets certain standards and doesn't allow the sale of inferior insurance.

"This could set up a showdown between Walker and federal authorities that could further delay planning for the implementation of health care reform in Wisconsin," said Citizen Action's director Robert Kraig.

Open enrollment for exchange plans is scheduled to start Oct. 1, 2013, and coverage will be effective Jan. 1, 2014.

A recent AP poll found that 63 percent of Americans want states to run the exchanges, with 32 percent favoring federal control.