Obama's win forces Walker's hand on health care

Associated Press Modified: November 7, 2012 at 6:01 pm •  Published: November 7, 2012
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Citizen Action released emails it obtained under the state's open records law that indicate that Walker administration officials believe they can meet the Nov. 16 deadline.

One email dated Aug. 2 from Department of Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith asks J.P. Wieske, the legislative liaison and public information officer for the state insurance commissioner's office, whether that office can meet the Nov. 16 deadline based on the outcome of the election.

"We think we can be ready to file by Nov 16th, if there is interest in moving forward," Wieske replied.

Wieske on Wednesday wouldn't say whether he stood by what he wrote.

"Right now, we're just going to wait for the administration to meet," Wieske said. One of the discussion points is what role the Department of Insurance will play in setting up the exchanges, he said.

DHS spokeswoman Stephanie Smiley had no immediate comment.

Democratic state Rep. Jon Richards, an advocate for the law, said whatever work Walker's administration may be doing should be out in the open and not secret.

"The time for making excuses for doing nothing is over," Richards said. "It's all been a charade. It's time to act and construct an exchange that will benefit Wisconsin."

Republican state legislative leaders said they were looking toward Walker's administration for the next move.

"We're certainly going to work with them closely and take the lead from the administration," said incoming Republican Senate Majority Leader Sen. Scott Fitzgerald. "I don't know enough to even comment on where it is."

State Rep. Robin Vos, co-chairman of the Legislature's powerful budget committee and one of the front-runners to take over as Assembly speaker next year, was also looking toward Walker.

"We're going to look and see what the potential is for what we're allowed under federal law," Vos said. "Just because the president was re-elected doesn't change my position that Obamacare is still wrong for the country and I'm not going to do anything to hurt the citizens of Wisconsin."

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Associated Press writer Todd Richmond contributed to this story.