In his State of the State address January 24, Gov. Scott Walker reiterated a plan he released earlier in the week that Wisconsin will seek a federal waiver to create a reinsurance program. The reinsurance program is designed to help mitigate the sharp premium increases that individuals purchasing coverage on the health insurance exchange have seen by providing financial support to insurers for some of their most expensive cases.
Walker estimates the total program will cost $200 million in 2019. Of that amount, $50 million would come from state dollars, and the federal government would cover the remaining $150 million.
WHA President/CEO Eric Borgerding said the time to act to reduce premium increases is now and that WHA was encouraged by the Governor’s proposal to create a reinsurance mechanism to stabilize insurance premiums.
“It seems increasingly unlikely Washington will act to either stabilize or offer an alternative to the Obamacare insurance markets. Rather than stand by and watch the piecemeal deconstruction of Obamacare unfold, WHA has called on the State to strike its own path as necessary, including taking steps to stabilize the individual health insurance market using the tools available to all states under the ACA,” Borgerding said in a statement released after the Governor’s address. “Currently, there are 11 insurers participating in the exchange market, four fewer than last year. The individual market experienced a 36 percent average increase in premiums in 2018. That cannot continue. We welcome opportunities to stabilize our markets and allow consumers to have affordable insurance choices.”
In his address to the state, the Governor also called on the Legislature to pass a law guaranteeing no one with pre-existing conditions is denied coverage.
“As the Governor noted in his State of the State speech, Wisconsin ranks first in the nation for quality, and according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of people with access to health coverage in Wisconsin is one of the best in the nation,” Borgerding said. “From day one of the ACA repeal and replace debate, sustaining Wisconsin’s coverage gains has been WHA’s top priority. We are looking forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature to ensure our health care system continues to be a national model for high quality, safety and coverage.”