Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin is sending $37 million back to the federal government. The money was an award for the state’s health care exchange under the early innovator program. The move follows an earlier announcement from the Governor that Wisconsin will not move forward on health care reform requirements until the Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the law.
Walker said in his announcement that he didn’t think it made sense to take federal dollars and commit the state to a program that would have, “devastating economic impact.” Wisconsin was awarded an Early Innovator Grant by the federal government for its health exchange plan. Early Innovator Grants are designed to reward states with cutting edge plans for health care reform. According to Governor Walker, Wisconsin will continue to innovate without the help of federal funds.
After the election that elected Walker Governor, before he officially took office, he ordered then Governor Jim Doyle to halt the state’s efforts towards compliance with federal health care reform. In 2011, Walker created the Office of Free Market Health Care through an Executive Order to handle the state’s response to federal health care reform requirements. In the order, he not only tasked the office with examining requirements but to also, “explore all opportunities and alternative approaches that would free Wisconsin from establishing a health benefit exchange, including federal waivers.”
States that do not implement their own customized health care exchange will have a generic one administered for them at the federal level. Several states are challenging the law before the US Supreme Court which is expected to rule on the measure by the middle of this year.
The Court has scheduled several days of oral arguments and some states are filing briefs with the Court in support of the law in advance of those arguments.
Walker currently faces a recall action, as state democrats gained more than double the necessary signatures needed to force an election that could potentially unseat him.