Barron County votes down extra Affordable Care Act help - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Barron County votes down extra Affordable Care Act help


Barron County (WQOW)- The Barron County administrator says they're taking it one day at a time right now.  They are concerned about the impact the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare will have on their workforce.  The law aims to make health care more affordable and to do that, citizens have to go through a process to sign up for the federal health insurance exchange.

"We are the only county at this point that hasn't chosen to accept these funds and create the position," explains Barron County Administrator Jeff French.

He says up to 20 percent of the county's 45,000 residents could be eligible for health insurance under the new exchanges.  People can begin signing up October 1st.

"With Governor Walker not taking the federal part of it, his plan was to have the counties enroll people, which is what this is all about," states French.

There are 10 counties that collaborate on issues like this one.  The other nine accepted federal or state funding to create more positions to deal with the added workload health care reform will create.  The Barron County Board was the last to vote on that funding.  The vote on Monday failed to get the necessary two-thirds support.

"I was surprised it was shot down," French replies.  "I did expect it to pass at two."

Barron County has 13 workers assigned to deal with the Affordable Care Act at this moment.  Each worker has about 790 cases to deal with.  That was before they decided not to add those extra positions, which will mean another 325 cases each.

The workers will be responsible for helping people navigate the paperwork needed for health care exchanges.  The county says as of now, it doesn't know how it will handle the added caseload.

"Sometimes it's the uncertainty in life that is worse than knowing," says French.  "And that's I think appropriate in this case because we don't know.  We know what the governor has mandated that we do, but we don't know the ultimate outcome."

French says a majority of the county board did vote for the extra positions, but still ended up five votes short of what was needed.  He says the reason some on the board voted against it was because there's a general fear of the unknown with the Affordable Care Act.

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