On November 3rd Governor Scott Walker signed Emergency Rule 18 which closely emulates AB-210. AB-210 would, "require insurers to comply with PPACA provisions that went into effect for plan years beginning on or after March 23, 2010." PPACA is better known as ObamaCare. Wisconsin law states that emergency rules last for 150 days at which time they can be extended 120 days, expire or become permanent law. The majority of emergency rules result in permanent law.
The AB-210 bill was passed by the Republican controlled Wisconsin State Assembly but was tabled and left to die in the Senate Committee of Insurance and Housing by State Senator Frank Lasee. Lasee stated that his office was advised by a long list of conservative think tanks including the well respected CATO institute that passing the bill would be a terrible idea for Republicans. Lasee and national conservative institutions argue that if Wisconsin begins to comply with ObamaCare, it could be a devastating blow to the repeal process. Wisconsin's compliance would likely be sighted in the 26 state challenge to ObamaCare's constitutionality when the case inevitably goes before the Supreme Court.
So why is Walker doing this? Lasee muses that there is a relation to the $49 million Federal Early Innovator Grant given to Wisconsin to set up a statewide/regional healthcare information exchange system. Lasee points out that Governor Scott Walker is the only Republican governor in the nation that failed to return the grant directly tied to ObamaCare. Lasee and other Republican activists believe that there is language buried in the acceptance of the grant money which states that compliance with ObamaCare must be law by December 31st, 2011 in order to keep the $49 million.
It does not add up that Walker would be so desperate to keep the $49 million (which is sadly small potatoes in even state politics), that he would help to implement ObamaCare which he is so firmly ideologically opposes. So there are two possible explanations. The first would be that American Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) successfully lobbied not only the Republicans in the State Assembly but also Governor Walker into passing the bill and signing the emergency order. The other explanation, favored by the Wisconsin GOP, is that Walker is getting bad advice and has been convinced by some in his administration that it is better if they take the money and are in control of implementing the bad ObamaCare policy rather than reject the money and have Federal officials come in and implement ObamaCare.
The Tea Party is begging Walker to reject the money and let the battle play out at the Supreme Court.
About the Author: Andy is a graduate student who lives in Milwaukee.