Walker requesting tax credit change in ACA rollout

Gov. Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance are requesting a change regarding the premium tax credits available for those purchasing coverage from insurers selling on the Affordable Care Act’s new marketplace.

The change requested would extend premium tax credits to all qualified health plan on the individual market, not just those currently selling on the Obamacare marketplace.

“It just comes down to choice,” said Dan Schwartzer, deputy commissioner of the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI). “We’ve got a market where there’s a lot of choice outside the exchange and not as much inside. We want to make sure the consumer has as many options as possible.”

Gov. Walker sent a letter on Friday, Nov. 15, addressed to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, making this request.

“Due to the bottlenecks and the ongoing technology problems, the current process is unworkable. Wisconsinites need actual solutions and access to available health plans. I am asking for the IRS to issue regulations allowing consumers to access a premium tax credit for any qualified health plan they choose to purchase – on or off the exchange. These tax credits are based on the second least costly silver plan in each county, and there is no reason the tax credit cannot be applied uniformly. This solution would ensure that Wisconsinites will not be forced to attempt to purchase coverage through a website, which is currently not functioning and hosts a limited selection of insurers,” wrote Walker. “It is important to note the same market rules apply both on- and off-exchange. Consumers purchasing plans off the exchange will be purchasing essentially the same policies, but be allowed to choose from a wider variety of insurers.”

Schwartzer said the state office has not heard a response from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services or the U.S. Treasury Department.

Under current rules, 301,000 people in Wisconsin are eligible for premium tax credits.

The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance is also currently in the process of making a decision on whether or not to implement President Obama’s plan, which he announced last week, to delay insurance cancellations by one year.

“There are a lot of technical issues in a very compressed timeframe,” said J.P Wieske, public information officer at the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance.

Schwartzer said Wisconsin has already allowed early renewals and had embraced the early renewal process early on. He said fewer cancellations are occurring in Wisconsin because of this.

“For most of Wisconsin consumers, we’ve made sure they already had that option,” said Schwartzer.

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