State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
The plan is very similar to the proposal Senate Democrats attempted to put in the 2007-09 state budget. That plan was rejected.
The latest version of the Senate Democrats’ government health care plan is Senate Bill 562 (SB 562). Based on a memo on the proposal I requested and received from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the plan is just as troubling as last year’s proposal.
The price tag is $15.2 billion, the largest tax increase in the history of the United States.
The Senate Democrats’ proposal also includes an un-elected Board that would have wide-ranging authority. According to a memo I received from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, here are the details about the responsibilities of the un-elected Board:
“Board Membership. Create the Health Wisconsin Authority (Authority) as a public bodycorporate and politic, the Board of Trustees (Board) of which would consist of: (a) five non-voting members, including the Secretary of Employee Trust Funds, who would serve as the initial chairperson until the Board elects a chairperson from its voting members, and four representatives from the Authority's health care advisory committee who are health care personnel and administrators and who would be selected as Board members by the health care advisory committee; and (b) 16 voting members, nominated by the Governor and appointed with the advice and consent of the Senate, comprised of: (1) four members selected from a list submitted by statewide labor or union coalitions, one of which would be a public employee; (2) four members selected from a list submitted by statewide business and employer organizations, one of which would be a public employer; (3) one member selected from a list submitted by statewide public school teacher labor organizations; (4) one member selected from a list submitted by statewide small business organizations; (5) two members who are farmers, selected from a list submitted by statewide general farm organizations; (6) one member who is a self-employed person; and (7) three members selected from a list submitted by statewide health care consumer organizations. Specify that Board members would serve staggered terms of six years each. Authorize the Board to appoint an Executive Director, who would serve at the Board’s pleasure, and whose compensation would be determined by the Board.
Board Responsibilities. Charge the Board with the duty to establish, fund, and administer a health care system in Wisconsin that would ensure that all eligible persons have access to high quality, timely, and affordable health care. Direct the Board, in carrying out that duty, to seek to attain the following goals: (a) that every Wisconsin resident has access to affordable, comprehensive health care services; (b) that health care reform would maintain and improve the choice of health care providers and high quality health care services in Wisconsin; and (c) that health care reform would implement cost containment strategies that retain and assure affordable coverage for all Wisconsin residents.
Require the Board to do the following: (a) provide for mechanisms to enroll into the Healthy Wisconsin Plan (plan) every eligible Wisconsin resident; (b) create a program for consumer protection and a process to resolve disputes with providers; (c) establish an independent and binding appeals process for resolving disputes over eligibility and other determinations made by the Board, and entitle individuals adversely affected by any such determination to judicial review of the determination; (d) submit an annual report on the Board’s activities to the Governor and each house of the Legislature; (e) contract for annual, independent program evaluations and financial audits that measure the extent to which the plan is achieving its statutorily-defined goals; (f) accept bids from health care networks, or make payments to fee-for-service providers, upon consulting with the Department of Employee Trust Funds to determine the most effective and efficient way to purchase health care benefits; and (g) audit health care networks and providers to determine if their services meet the plan’s statutory objectives and criteria.
Vest the Board with all powers necessary or convenient to carry out the plan’s statutory purposes and provisions. Specify that those powers would include, but not be limited to, the power to establish the Authority’s annual budget and monitor its fiscal management, to execute contracts, to employ any officers, agents, and employees it may require, to sue and to be sued, to borrow money as necessary on a short-term basis to address cash flow issues, and to compel witnesses to attend meetings and to testify upon any necessary matter concerning the plan.”
The Senate Democrats’ costly plan would likely bankrupt the state and establish an astonishing bureaucracy with little accountability. An un-elected Board would have the power to set health care costs and determine the type and amount of health care services.
SB 562, like the Great Lakes Compact legislation is on the fast track. I will be voting against the proposal.