Opinion

Why I refuse to advance AB 210

Over the past few weeks, Wisconsin’s state legislators have been strongly pressured to pass AB 210. The bill quickly cleared the State Assembly on October 18, after which it was assigned to the Senate Committee on Insurance and Housing, which I chair.

After a public hearing and full evaluation of the bill, I have decided to let AB 210 die in my committee. A great deal of noise will almost certainly be made about this decision. I want to provide Wisconsinites and everyone else watching this issue with the facts so that they can understand my reasons for killing this dangerous bill.

What would AB 210 achieve?

AB 210 would bring Wisconsin into compliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly called Obamacare, and start the process of formally embedding federal law into our state statutes. Once that door is open, it cannot be closed.

As such, AB 210 would thoroughly undermine Wisconsin’s sovereign rights under the 10th Amendment, leaving the state no authority to safeguard the health care choices and rights of our citizens. We would be subject to federal control, plain and simple. Furthermore, Wisconsin’s voluntary compliance with Obamacare would compromise our credibility in the federal court case we joined in January to contest the federal law’s constitutionality.

Over the past week, my staff and I have been in close contact with a number of nationally respected public policy institutes and health care freedom advocacy groups, including:

  • The Goldwater Institute
  • The Heartland Institute
  • The Cato Institute
  • The Pacific Research Institute
  • The Mackinac Center for Public Policy
  • The Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom

These experts unanimously assert that AB 210, as currently amended, poses a serious threat to Wisconsin citizens, business and industry. They firmly advise that we refuse to assist in any way with implementation of Obamacare.

They additionally agree that no amendment can fix AB 210.

My own analysis leads me to concur with their assessment.

Precisely because I am determined to protect and maintain health care freedoms for the people of Wisconsin, I stand opposed to AB 210 because of the ways in which it would entrench Obamacare in our state statutes.

Who would gain and who wouldn’t with AB 210?

A quick look into who supports AB 210 reveals that big insurance companies have united behind the bill, most notably American Health Insurance Plans, or AHIP.

In part, insurance companies support AB 210 because the bill does attempt to maximize their control over proprietary information. But they are fooling themselves. With federal law entrenched in our state statutes, Wisconsin’s insurance companies will lose any means of staving off the demand for such information. The Obama administration is interested in more control, not less. Moreover, PPACA gives the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) broad powers to change rules and regulations. That HHS wants proprietary information from all private insurance companies goes without saying.

However, AB 210 would sound a death knell for Wisconsin’s small and specialized insurers, almost certainly an attractive prospect to big insurance. As a gateway for the entrenchment of Obamacare, the bill would guarantee that only large companies — those with the resources to withstand the mountains of federal mandates Obamacare will unleash — could survive. That is not even to say that all large insurance companies would emerge unscathed.

Moreover, insurance is a key Wisconsin industry. This bill would ultimately cost many jobs that we can’t afford to lose in a difficult economy.

To take a quick tally, then, if AB 210 were to pass:

Winners:

  • Big insurance
  • Big government

Losers:

  • Wisconsin health care consumers
  • Wisconsin taxpayers
  • Wisconsin’s insurance industry
  • Wisconsin’s job market

Not exactly a good deal for Wisconsin.