Walker creates Free Market Health Care Office, still looking for challenges to HCR

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker continues to define his position on health care reform. On Friday, the Governor signed an executive order creating the office of Free Market Health Care. The office will be tasked with handling the state’s response to new federal health care reform requirements.

According to the executive order, the office will be responsible for assessing the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) on Wisconsin insurance markets and programs and bringing in a wide range of health care stake holders such as small business, insurers and labor unions to gather their views and recommendations for the state response. The office will also, “conditionally develop a plan for the design and implementation of a Wisconsin health benefit exchange that utilizes a free-market, consumer driven approach.” Notably, a line in the Order also requires the office to, “explore all opportunities and alternative approaches that would free Wisconsin from establishing a health benefit exchange, including federal waivers.”

This order underlines Governor Walker’s continuing dislike for health care reform legislation and its requirements for states. He used his first day in office to authorize a challenge to health care reform. In December, CivSource reported on then Governor-elect Walker’s reversal of his previous position on health care exchanges, when he indicated that the state would likely have a health benefit exchange, but he was leaving the specifics up to the legislative process. Around the same time, Walker also took the bold step of ordering then Governor Jim Doyle to stop any work on implementing measures to comply with health care reform.

At the time, Walker didn’t have any answers for who would run the exchange but appeared to be looking closely at Utah’s model. During his campaign, Walker openly voiced his opposition to federal health care reform as well as health benefit exchanges, instead supporting free market alternatives.

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