Scott Walker’s Complicated History With ‘Obamacare’

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s Thursday revelation — that states could enact key pieces of the Affordable Care Act even if the Supreme Court strikes the law at the federal level — is of a piece with his own complicated history with health care reform.

In January, the first-term Republican announced that Wisconsin would return a $37 million federal grant meant to expedite implementation of the health care law’s insurance exchange. But that was only after toying with the idea.“I have directed the Department of Health Services to notify the federal government that we will discontinue any development on a health exchange and that Wisconsin will turn down funding from the Early Innovator Grant program,” Walker said in a statement. The statement continued:

Stopping the encroachment of ObamaCare in our state, which has the potential to have a devastating impact on Wisconsin’s economy, is a top priority. Wisconsin has been a leader and innovator in health care reform for two decades, and we have achieved a high level of health insurance coverage without federal mandates. When job creators and Wisconsin families are facing difficult times it doesn’t make sense to commit to a federal health care mandate that will result in hidden taxes for Wisconsin families, increased health care costs and insurance premiums, and more uncertainty in the private sector.

Walker halted implementation of the exchange pending the Supreme Court’s ruling. He’s separately suggested he’s open to the idea of state-based exchanges independent of the health care law. And on Thursday in DC, he said that states could pursue coverage guarantees and mandates — though he’s been consistently opposed to mandates at the federal level.

His comments raised eyebrows, but a leading conservative group is confident he won’t be one of the governors seeding something like ‘Obamacare’ at the state level if the law gets tossed.

Research by Tom Kludt.