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Wisconsin proceeding with health care law

By Scott Bauer
Associated Press

Madison (AP) – Implementation of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law has not stopped in Wisconsin, even though Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen declared the law dead.

His comments came after a federal judge ruled in favor of Wisconsin and 25 other states’ challenge to the law.

“For Wisconsin, the federal health care law is dead – unless and until it is revived by an appellate court,” Van Hollen’s statement said.

“Effectively, Wisconsin was relieved of any obligations or duties that were created under terms of the federal health care law.”

But Van Hollen is not able to order an end to implementation, and he said that he has not advised Gov. Scott Walker to halt it.

“We have never advised that,” Van Hollen said in an interview Thursday. Van Hollen said he will advise the governor on his legal options in the wake of the ruling, but he sees no legal problem with implementation continuing.

Walker authorized Van Hollen to join the federal lawsuit challenging the law on his first day in office last month. And while Walker last week issued an executive order to proceed with creating a key part of the federal law, he also called for exploring ways to find alternatives.

Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said Thursday that the governor was examining the impact of the federal judge’s ruling while he continues to seek alternatives to the health care mandate.

States are required under the federal law to declare an intent by Jan. 1, 2013, to form health insurance exchanges, which are essentially a one-stop shop where residents can choose among different plans to buy health insurance. The exchanges have to be in place a year later or the federal government will step in and run them.

Stopping implementation now on the hopes that the U.S. Supreme Court will toss the law is risky given that the federal government could step in and run the insurance market exchanges if states fail to meet the deadline.

“Obviously that’s a concern that needs to be taken into account when they decided what to do, one way or the other,” Van Hollen said.

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