Wisconsin Lawmakers Propose Bill to Give Finance Committee Final Say on Health Insurance Program

Money in medical fieldA bill has been drafted that would give the Wisconsin Legislature’s finance committee more authority over any proposed changes to the state’s health insurance program.

According to theĀ Star Tribune, members of the Joint Finance Committee issued a news release outlining a proposal that would give them the power to approve or reject any changes to the state’s Group Health Insurance Program.

The Group Health Insurance Program covers a wide spectrum of public workers, including state employees and retirees as well as current and former government workers.

As of right now, changes to the program are administered through the state Department of Employee Trust Funds by an 11-person board that includes Gov. Scott Walker and the state attorney general.

Jennifer Malcore, a spokesman for Wisconsin Rep. John Nygren, claims that the board has had a heavy hand when it comes to changes to the program. She adds that legislators are concerned that the board may move to a self-funding insurance model, meaning the state would pay benefits directly rather than purchasing insurance from HMOs.

“Overall, we just want legislative oversight,” Malcore said.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires that organizations offer appropriate health benefits to all employees when their staff is composed of 50 or more full time employees.

Health care is one of the biggest headaches for legislators across the country as they attempt to balance state funding with insurance purchased through HMOs. According to FiveThirtyEight, a whopping 33 million Americans still don’t have any form of health insurance.

The bill proposed by the Joint Finance Committee is similar to one they included in the state budget earlier this year, which would have required the insurance board to submit any potential changes to the Joint Committee on Employee Relations for review.

Gov. Scott Walker vetoed the provision, saying that he objects to the employment committee infringing on the board’s responsibilities.

The legislators say that they expect the bill to come to both the Assembly and Senate floor this session.

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