Walker would consider waiver to raise pre-existing premiums

Walker would consider waiver to raise pre-existing premiums

Gov. Scott Walker says he would consider seeking a waiver under House Republicans’ health care changes to let insurers raise premiums for people with pre-existing conditions.

House GOP members passed legislation on Thursday rolling back former President Barack Obama’s health care law. Part of the bill would allow states to seek waivers exempting insurers from Obama’s prohibition on higher premiums for people with pre-existing health problems. States could then use federal dollars to fund government-operated insurance programs for pools of expensive patients.

Until 2014, Wisconsin had a high-risk pool program called the Health Insurance Risk-Sharing Plan, or HIRSP. The plan allowed people with pre-existing conditions an option for coverage, but could cost hundreds a month, came with a $2 million lifetime cap and required users to wait six months after signing up for a plan before they could get coverage.

“For people with pre-existing conditions it’s something that you don’t want to go back to the bad old days,” said Bobby Peterson, with ABC for Health.

Walker said, however, that he’d consider getting a waiver to restart a similar program if a final health care bill included the option.

“We’ve been very good at that before with HIRSP,” Walker said at an event Friday. “A lot of people were disappointed that Wisconsin was not allowed to have that under the Affordable Care Act, so that’s something we certainly would consider. It depends on the conditions.”

Peterson says he thinks people simply won’t accept a change back to requiring those with pre-existing conditions to seek separate coverage.

“There is an expectation for people now that we got rid of pre-existing conditions and to go back there — I think that is a very bitter pill,” Peterson said. “I think it will take a lot of political persuasion for people to accept that.”

Walker said Friday that he did not know what the Senate would end up passing and he’d wait to see what ended up in the final bill before saying what the state would pursue.