Health Co-Ops Offer Opportunities
The Farmers Health Cooperative, launched last April,
is the nation€™s first statewide health care program that enables the
collective bargaining of its members to lower health care costs and
deliver better benefits. A recent article by the Associated Press
highlighted how farm families statewide are benefiting.
Health cooperatives are voluntary, private-market initiatives that
enable individuals to join together to negotiate better benefits,
premiums and deductibles. Regional health cooperatives to serve
small businesses and the self-employed have formed in Green Bay and
Milwaukee. Over the next several months, I plan on using the insight
I have gained as a board member of the Farmers Health Cooperative to
explore the interest and potential of small businesses in western
Wisconsin utilizing such a cooperative model.
Legislation that I co-authored in 2003 facilitated the creation of
health cooperatives. Members join together, relatively free of
politics and government intrusion, to build pools that leverage
their buying power while focusing on prevention to lower costs.
These new health cooperatives are now getting national attention.
Some are advocating a state government takeover of health care which
relies on government mandating and managing insurance pools.
However, a state mandated government-run health care program adds
new double-digit payroll taxes, breeds consumer inequities, and
jeopardizes health care choice and quality. When government takes
complete control, competition to control costs and voluntary
enrollment to ensure choice are sacrificed. I think this is the
wrong direction, especially when there are better alternatives.
For example, BadgerCare Plus, enacted last week in Wisconsin, is
smart reform that will provide health insurance access to 98% of
Wisconsin residents, the highest in the nation. As the most sweeping
revision of the family portion of Medicaid since 1967, BadgerCare
Plus streamlines current health insurance programs for low-income
families and uses savings to expand access. As importantly, it is a
voluntary program to be used as a safety net; not a big government
If you are interested in learning more about health care
cooperatives or BadgerCare Plus, send me an email to
Sen.Harsdorf@legis.wisconsin.gov or call me at 1-800-862-1092.