July 11, 2012
Governor Scott Walker
State Capitol, 115 East
Madison, WI 53702
Dear Governor Walker,
Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, we strongly encourage you to re-evaluate your decision to not implement this constitutional law. Specifically, we request that you call a Special Session immediately for the purposes of enacting legislation to create a health insurance exchange, including public meetings, bi-partisan participation and stakeholder involvement.
We would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you within the next week to discuss how we can work together to make sure we adopt a system that works for Wisconsin. It is imperative that we immediately engage in productive conversations and planning to move forward in a way that benefits our state and Wisconsinites.
On December 22, 2011, Representative Richards and Senator Erpenbach wrote to your administration’s now-disbanded Office of Free Market Health Care to express concern that Wisconsin had fallen behind in establishing its health insurance exchange. Those concerns only magnified after your administration officially shut down its work on an exchange in January. Now Wisconsin has less than six months left to demonstrate that it will have an operational exchange in 2013, and a self-sufficient exchange on January 1, 2014. Otherwise, the federal government will come into Wisconsin and impose an exchange on us.
By refusing to implement the law, you are relinquishing Wisconsin’s right to create its own exchange and sticking us with a one-size-fits-all model developed by Washington and run by federal bureaucrats. You are also putting Wisconsin's small and medium size businesses at a significant disadvantage with their peers in other states that have acted to create their own exchanges. This will not improve our economy.
During the summer of 2010, the Special Committee on Health Care Reform Implementation had made significant progress in writing a bi-partisan bill to establish a health insurance exchange for Wisconsin. After a change in party leadership, the committee was unfortunately disbanded before its work could be completed. The committee was successful, however, in finding consensus on the following three guiding principles by which an exchange should be governed. The committee approved these principles by unanimous consent. We offer them as a starting point for discussion.
(1) Maintain a pluralistic marketplace, for a robust private insurance market in the state;
(2) Create a governance for the health exchange that is independent and insulated from the political process, but is publicly accountable through measures such as being subject to the open records law, audits, and regular reporting to the Legislature; and
(3) Promote value and transparency within the health care system, with a focus on cost- efficiency, quality, access, and prevention.
Health insurance exchanges are the cornerstone of PPACA, providing a competitive private marketplace that will drive down costs, empower consumers and provide more options to Wisconsin families and small businesses. Wisconsin has the expertise and ability to implement this market-based approach to expanding coverage and lowering costs. We strongly urge you to re-evaluate your position.
Despite your public comments indicating that you do not intend to implement the law, it is our constitutional duty to do so. As you know, the solemn oath that we all took requires us to support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Wisconsin, and to faithfully discharge the duties of our respective offices to the best of our ability.
An oath that is upheld only when it is politically advantageous has little honor. With over 500,000 Wisconsinites in need to health insurance, we should be working together—not on how to block the law—but on how to implement this law. We should be cooperating across party lines to expand Medicaid and create the required health insurance exchanges so that we are maximizing the opportunity of every Wisconsinite to obtain affordable, quality health care. We believe that by working together we can create the most effective health insurance system for Wisconsin, one that addresses the health care needs of our employers, small businesses and individuals.
Thank you for your consideration of our request. We look forward to your prompt response.
JON RICHARDS JON ERPENBACH CHRIS TAYLOR
State Representative State Senator State Representative
Assembly District 19 Senate District 27 Assembly District 48
SANDY PASCH DONNA SEIDEL TIM CARPENTER
State Representative State Representative State Senator
Assembly District 22 Assembly District 85 Senate District 3