November 15. 2012 11:00AM - Last modified: November 15. 2012 11:32AM

Obama administration extends deadline for state health exchange plans

  
The Obama administration is extending its deadline for states to submit blueprints for health care insurance exchanges from Friday, Nov. 16, to Friday, Dec. 14.

The extension gives Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his administration more time to establish the blueprint if he decides to create a state-run exchange.
Walker and other governors received notice of the extension in a letter from U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
“Over the past two years, we have worked together as many of you began building your new health insurance marketplaces. The hard work you have engaged in has laid the foundation for providing access to quality affordable coverage for millions of Americans. Consumers in all fifty states and the District of Columbia will have access to insurance through these new marketplaces on January 1, 2014, as scheduled, with no delays,” Sebelius wrote in the letter. “This Administration is committed to providing significant flexibility for building a marketplace that best meets your state's needs. We intend to issue further guidance to assist you in the very near future.”
However, the federal deadline for governors to submit a declaration letter about their plans to create a state-run exchange remains Friday, Nov. 16.
The Associated Press reported today that Walker plans to announce his decision on Friday.
Six Wisconsin legislators and three incoming legislators have signed a pledge to call for the state to arrest any federal officials who try to implement the Affordable Care Act in Wisconsin.
The sitting legislators who signed the pledge with a group called the “Campaign for Liberty” are Rep. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield), Rep. Don Pridemore (R-Hartford), Rep. Erik Severson (R-Star Prairie), Rep. Tom Larson (R-Colfax), Rep. Scott Krug (R-Wisconsin Rapids) and Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin). The newly elected incoming legislators who signed the pledge are Rob Hutton, Mark Born and Dave Murphy.
The “Campaign for Liberty” asks legislators to pledge allegiance by answering seven questions, including “Will you support legislation to nullify ObamaCare and authorize state and local law enforcement to arrest federal officials attempting to implement the unconstitutional health care scheme known as ObamaCare?”
Similar “nullification” threats were made in states by opponents of the law to abolish slavery in the 19th century and opponents of the civil rights laws of the 1960s.
"Governor Walker doesn’t support arresting people for implementing federal law," Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said in an email to BizTimes.
Rep. Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee) denounced the “Campaign for Liberty” pledge and the legislators who signed it.
“I call on Gov. Walker to affirm that he will never allow federal health care officials who are implementing provisions of the Affordable Care Act to be arrested in Wisconsin for dutifully doing their job. I also ask the governor to vow that if such legislation were to reach his desk, he would veto it,” Richards said. “The law these officials would be implementing requires coverage for people with preexisting conditions and prevents people from being dropped from insurance due to a lifetime coverage limit. It is deeply troubling to me that nine members of Wisconsin’s legislative delegation promised to vote for – and possibly sponsor – such legislation. Twenty Tea Party organizations have written to the governor wrongheadedly asking him to break the law and calling this his ‘moment of truth.’ Gov. Walker must not only renounce this extremist legislation, but move forward working diligently with all stakeholders to implement the new health-care law that will help Wisconsin consumers and families.”
The letter Richards referred to was sent to Walker by Jeff Horn of the "Prairie Patriots" of Sun Prairie, who warned Walker not to establish the exchange.
"Wisconsin must stand. As a significant and highly active portion of your base, we have defended you tirelessly through all of the battles of the last year and a half. We also came to the aid of legislators who stood with you on Act 10. We have done right by you. We now urge you to once again do right by us," stated the letter, which was signed by Tea Party advocates from around the state, including Joanne Terry of "Ozaukee Patriots" in Mequon, Paul Bruno of "Tea Party Perspective" of Racine and Ed Willing of "Founders Intent" of Caledonia. "The sovereignty of this state and the personal liberty of every single Wisconsinite is at stake – including the lives of the unborn, on whose behalf you have, to date, always advocated. No other considerations can compare to life and liberty. As noted, a yes to Obamacare is not an option. We will not accept it. We are therefore waiting for you to issue an unequivocal, 'NO!' When you do, we expect all Republican state legislators to stand with you, as will we."
State Sen. Frank Lasee (R-De Pere), who refused to hold a hearing on legislation that would make statutes comply with the federal law, sent Walker a letter urging him to first see what kind of exchange the feds would set up in Wisconsin and that “taking an unhurried position now does not preclude us from taking action in the future.”
Meanwhile, Wisconsin Council on Children and Families executive director Ken Taylor wrote Walker that while the group believed the federal government could come up with an adequate exchange to improve access to coverage, “it makes much more sense for our state to develop its own exchange.” 

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