Wis. governor offers a way around ObamaCare problems

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker wants to give people in his state a way around ObamaCare’s problems.

He is floating a proposal that would still channel federal subsidies to Wisconsin’s poor and uninsured, but his plan would allow them to purchase coverage directly from the insurer and sidestep the on-line “exchange” created by the Affordable Care Act.

His idea is getting support, even in the bitterly divided Wisconsin state house. Six Democrats crossed party lines and backed his proposal in the assembly, sending it over to the Senate with a healthy majority.

Still, before it goes into effect, Walker’s idea would need the blessing of the Obama administration.

“If they don't approve this, this is ultimately exposing that this isn't really about access and this isn't about affordability,” says Walker. “It's about government playing a heavier hand in these kinds of decisions.”

Regardless of support, his idea stands in the face of President Obama’s claim that, when it comes to health care, Republicans complain but don’t offer solutions.

“They sure haven't presented an alternative.  If you ask many of the opponents of this law what exactly they'd do differently, their answer seems to be, well, let's go back to the way things used to be,” the President said in a White House speech Dec. 3.

However, a number of Republican politicians have floated proposals, including Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, Sen. Tom Price of Georgia and Rep.Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

The Republican plans are generally consumer driven, says Ed Haislmaier of The Heritage Group, a conservative think tank.

“The patient makes choices,” says Haislmaier, as opposed to a government-driven plan in which a third party buys coverage to fit the needs of the consumer.

Supporters of the president’s plan say conservative counter-proposals lack the reach of the Affordable Care Act.

“I’ve yet to hear a Republican alternative which covers nearly as many uninsured or even half as many uninsured,” says economist Jonathan Gruber. “Or offers evidence-based solutions to the health care cost crisis.”