Why all the pressure to advance AB 210 quickly?
AHIP’s support of AB 210 provides some clues regarding the speed at which this bill has traveled through the Wisconsin State Legislature. As with the federal mandate, better to pass this mess quickly so you don’t know what’s in it, what it does, who wins and who loses — until it’s too late.
At a public hearing on October 25, representatives of the State Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) indicated that if Wisconsin does not pass AB 210 by December 31, 2011, state residents will lose the ability to have insurance claims independently reviewed instate. They say such reviews will subsequently be assumed by a federal office in Chicago. In fact, this threat has been used very effectively so far to press Republican legislators into voting for AB 210.
But in reality this trade-off — major losses in exchange for a small advantage — does not justify quickly passing AB 210 into law. PPACA is written to establish total control over the states.
Oddly, the December 31, 2011 deadline does not appear in an Obamacare timeline prepared in mid-September by legislative counsel for AB 210’s author. Nor does it appear in any of the documentation provided by OCI to the Senate Committee on Insurance and Housing during AB 210’s public hearing on October 25. If December 31, 2011 is as crucial a date as OCI claims, one would think it would have been noted in key documentation concerning the bill intended to protect us from the consequences of missing that deadline.
What role does Wisconsin’s federal Early Innovator Grant play?
My office is currently investigating whether the mysterious December 31, 2011 deadline lies buried in agreements surrounding $49 million in Early Innovator Grant funds. The federal government awarded these funds to Wisconsin in February for the specific purpose of establishing a state or regional health care exchange. To be clear, such exchanges are yet another way HHS is working to entrench Obamacare within the states.
I have previously asserted that Wisconsin should neither hurry nor innovate to facilitate Obamacare. Yet, where other states with Republican leadership have wisely returned Early Innovator funds, Wisconsin still holds these monies. This circumstance only weakens our state’s position in relationship to the 10th Amendment and health care freedoms. To put it candidly: Accepting federal monies does not generally amount to strong states’ rights. Keeping these monies also undermines the power of SJR 21, the Health Care Freedom Amendment that is currently advancing through our state legislature.
I therefore strongly urge Governor Walker to swiftly return Wisconsin’s Early Innovator Grant funds. There is even stronger incentive to do so if the December 31 deadline that has been so heavily leveraged in pressing for the passage of AB 210 lies somewhere in those grant agreements.
What is the bottom line?
There is simply no threat or pressure strong enough to induce me to sell out the people of Wisconsin by advancing dangerous policy. AB 210 must die. The sovereignty of the State of Wisconsin must be upheld, the health care freedoms of its citizen preserved and true free-market competition in the health care insurance industry fostered.
Frank Lasee is a Wisconsin state senator (R – De Pere) and a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.