Governor Walker talks health care reform during visit to Eau Cla - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Governor Walker talks health care reform during visit to Eau Claire

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Eau Claire (WQOW)- WQOW News 18 has been asking a lot of questions about the new health care exchanges and the answers have been hard to come by. 

Tens of thousands of people will be losing their coverage under Medicaid and will need to buy federally-subsidized private insurance.  Those exchanges begin taking applications in October.

Governor Walker visited Eau Claire on Wednesday to speak with employees at Five Star Plastics.  We asked him with the health care exchange on our doorstep, what concerns have people had?

"Earlier in the year, you had the President and the administration back away from the employer mandate," Walker explains.  "There is some confusion as to what does that mean for individuals?  The expectation still is that the exchanges will be up and operational by January 1st of 2014.  By the beginning of October, people will be ready to go forward.  We are still operating under that premise."

There are so many questions about how the exchange will work.  We want to know about cost.  Individuals at 100 percent of the poverty level, which is about $11,500 a year, cannot be required to pay more than $19 a month.  We took a look at other estimates.  While other states have released rate information, Wisconsin has not. Using a calculator through the non-profit Kasier Family Foundation, we see a family of four making $31,000 a year could pay a yearly premium of $620.  But it almost doubles if they bring home $2,000 more.  Governor Walker expressed his concern about premiums.

"Obamacare was sold as the Affordable Care Act.  By just about any measure, it is anything but affordable.  Our premiums continue to rise," says the governor.  "The American Society of Actuaries has laid out, they think in Wisconsin's case, it could go up by as much as 82 percent for individual health insurance premiums by 2017."

There is no estimate for group or family plans that we could find.  The governor says the switchover is happening too fast and those in charge may not be able to keep up.

"We've gone to great lengths in Wisconsin despite my political concerns about the Affordable Care Act to make sure that since it is the law, we are going to make sure it works because we want to make sure that at least people have access to it," Walker points out.

The exchanges go live in January.  It's a topic that could come up during a listening session with Congressman Ron Kind. 

That event is Tuesday in Eau Claire at the L.E. Phillips Senior Center from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.  Rep. Kind is also holding an informational session about health care reform.  That will happen on Wednesday, September 4th at CVTC's Gateway Campus from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m.

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