January 4, 2013
Milwaukee Courier

Legislatively Speaking: Informing Citizens about Health Care

By Senator Lena C. Taylor

In March of 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, it law!  This marked a momentous change to our healthcare system.

The law will improve the quality of health care, lower the cost for both consumers and providers, and increase access to care. Reforming our broken health care system is not just about providing better and more affordable care to individuals, although that is very important!  Obamacare also offers small businesses tax credits to help provide insurance.  It also requires insurance companies cover pre-existing conditions.  Finally, it and creates a forum for clear information about insurance plans for consumers.

The law creates health insurance exchanges. These exchanges act like supermarkets for insurance plans, where consumers can browse different plans and compare prices. Simple and streamlined, these online exchanges with help citizens enroll in either health insurance plans in a matter of minutes. The new system will also help out small business owners by offering a better choice of plans at low costs.

Obamacare provided a pathway for states like Wisconsin to set up health insurance exchanges. However, Governor Walker chose not to create a state exchange for Wisconsin, leaving the responsibility to help his people to someone else.  Instead, the Obama administration will act.

Because of the Governor’s failure, the federal Department of Health and Human Services will build a health care exchange.  Because Obamacare establishes criteria for insurance and care, health plans must meet better standards. Failure to meet state and federal standards will prevent a plan from being sold on Wisconsin’s health exchange. This will mean better care for you and your family! Starting in 2016, insurance companies will have to report on the quality and cost of their services.

In order to effectively transition into the new healthcare system set up by the President, we will of course have to deal with some complications and confusion. This means that state agencies, consumers, insurers, providers, and employers will be welcome to offer ideas and input.  This means that you and many people like you will help guide the implementation process and influence future decisions.

Means for open and transparent dialogue are set to begin this summer.  They include include forums, workshops, and outreach programs in order to inform and educate.  They will help ensure the new law will make the you and family members healthier and better off than ever. I hope this column has helped you understand the future of our health care system a little better. Of course, there is always more to learn, so please feel free to contact my office with any questions, at 414-342-7176!