Governor Scott Walker is defending his proposal to move state employees to a self-insurance system.
Walker’s administration estimates the move could save the state about $60 million, but critics have warned it could lead to job losses in the health care industry. Speaking to reporters in Madison Tuesday, Walker argued he doesn’t believe that will happen. “We still have to have people who have to be covered,” he said. “The fact is people are still going to get their health care coverage at providers across the state…we’re just going to do it in a way that’s more cost effective to the taxpayers.”
The self-insurance proposal would have the state contracting coverage through six providers, instead of the current 17 HMOs it relies on.
The plan still needs approval by lawmakers, who have so far been skeptical about the switch. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said last week that he worries about the sweeping effect the move could have in the industry, as providers lose business and lay off workers. “There’s some pretty big health care corporations that literally would cease to exist eventually,” he said.
If lawmakers opt against the plan, Walker said Tuesday that they will have to find cost savings elsewhere to fund the education initiatives he hopes to use the money for. “If they don’t want to do that, then I presume they will find 60 million from somewhere else.”