Madison: Two state lawmakers have decided health insurance in Wisconsin is now in crisis, and they have a plan.
"We need to do something. And we need to do something big and bold," says Rep. Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee).
"This is a huge, provocative, revolutionary idea," agrees Rep. Curt Gielow (R-Mequon).
Representatives Richards and Gielow are introducing a concept called The Wisconsin Health Plan.
It works like this: Every business in Wisconsin would be required to pay an 8–12% payroll tax, adding up to about $13 billion a year.
A state board called the Health Insurance Purchasing Corporation would use that money to negotiate cheap insurance plans.
"The bargaining power is massive because the board would say, 'If you want to sell insurance in Wisconsin, you have to sell it under this program,'" says Rep. Richards.
Rep. Richards says the plan would provide universal health care coverage for everybody in Wisconsin. Businesses would no longer provide health insurance, so you could pick whatever plan fit you best.
"Every year you as a health insurance buyer will be able to choose from a selection of plans, and different tiers within that plan," says Rep. Richards.
The cheapest plan would include a $1,200 deductible, but the state would give every adult $600 a year in a health savings account to help pay for that.
Rep. Gielow says the base plan would rank as 7 out of 10, but you can always move up. "You're going to get the 7 through this scheme and be able to buy up by adding bells and whistles to your policy."
Rep. Richards says this plan would even save most businesses money once they stop paying for health insurance plans at work. "Right now many businesses in Wisconsin pay about 15 percent of their payroll for health insurance. This would cap it at 12 percent, and for many small employers it would be about 8 percent."
Both lawmakers say the earliest this proposal could be implemented would be during the budget debate of 2007.
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