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Walker says no decision made on state insurance

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Posted: Thursday, October 3, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 6:13 am, Thu Oct 3, 2013.

MADISON, Wis. -- More time is needed to study options about whether it makes sense to shift state employees from health maintenance organizations to a state self-insured program, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Wednesday.

Walker discussed the idea with representatives of heath care providers and insurers at a Tuesday meeting. A committee of the state's Group Insurance Board, which oversees state employee health benefits, was set to discuss it further on Oct. 11.

At least 20 states have self-insurance programs for their employees. Under that approach, employers carry the risk for losses and pay benefits directly to employees,

instead of buying insurance from the private market. In Wisconsin, the state contracts with 18 HMOs to cover its 236,000 employees and family members.

Until more information about the pros and cons of the idea are gathered, no decisions will be made, Walker said in response to questions asked after an event at the World Dairy Expo.

"We have not proposed a plan," Walker said. "We may find after all that we're going to stay with the status quo. We may find that we're going to change. We may find some sort of a hybrid. But there have been no conclusions made in that regard."

A report by Deloitte consultants said the state could save 4 percent to 5 percent a year by becoming self-insured, with savings mainly coming from taxes and fees imposed for fully-insured programs under the federal health care law.

"When we make this decision, we're going to want as much information as possible and not just to get out from having to pay some of the taxes and fees under the Affordable Care Act," Walker said.

© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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