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Announcement tomorrow about state health-insurance exchange


MADISON (WSAU)  The governor’s office says it will announce tomorrow or Friday whether Wisconsin will have its own tailor-made health insurance purchasing exchange under the Obama health law. Republican Scott Walker has until Friday to tell Washington whether it will run its own exchange – or accept a standard federal template starting in 2014.

Walker has been meeting privately on the subject this week with state health and insurance officials. The exchanges create a menu of health plans for individuals to choose from – and experts say states can better coordinate the packages with their own Medicaid programs if they design the system themselves. But until President Obama was re-elected last week, Walker stayed as far away as possible from the Democrats’ health package, in the hopes that a Romney administration could repeal it. Yesterday, Wisconsin’s Democrats in Washington warned that it would be difficult for Wisconsin to change its mind in the future if it lets the federal government design the exchanges now.

Walker has questioned how flexible the states can really be. And several Tea Party groups have urged Walker to keep opposing the Obama health law and not set up the exchanges.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said nine Republican lawmakers told the group Campaign for Liberty they would favor arresting any federal officials who tried to implement the health act in Wisconsin. At least 17 states and Washington D-C are setting up their own exchanges. Ten others have decided to let the federal government do it for them.