Low-income residents, employers won't have to buy insurance - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Low-income residents, employers won't have to buy health insurance in 2014

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Wisconsin employers and low-income residents will not have to buy health insurance until 2015 under a new timetable for the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) announced by the U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) and Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) disagree over the need for the federal health care law, but both agree it should work once its actually implemented.

"I certainly think that the announcement came as a surprise to many," said Sen. Baldwin, speaking at UW-Madison on Wednesday.

"Surprising to me in some regards in that, politically, I thought this administration was committed to plowing forward no matter what," said Gov. Walker. 

Multiple business and political groups expressed concerns the mandate requiring all employers to provide health insurance was simply too complex, causing the Obama Administration to delay that provision by one year.

"I expect that the motivation is that we need to build the confidence and we need to make sure that we have time to do it right," said Sen. Baldwin.

But a much less publicized delay could have an even bigger impact. 

In states that didn't accept the federal expansion of Medicaid, which includes Wisconsin, many low-income residents would have been required to purchase private health insurance next year or face a penalty.

But the Obama Administration has decided not to enforce any penalties on the poor in 2014, saying they shouldn't be held responsible for bad decisions made by certain state governments.

Governor Walker still defends his decision to reject the Medicaid expansion.
    
"We will still have 224,000 fewer people uninsured, will transition people above poverty into the marketplace either through traditional insurance coverage or the exchanges," said Gov. Walker.

Uninsured individuals who are not near the poverty line will still be expected to purchase health care coverage by January 1, 2014.  Enrollment in a federal health insurance exchange in Wisconsin is still scheduled to start on October 1.

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