Conservatively Speaking

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.

I voted against a health insurance mandate


The state Senate approved legislation, Senate Bill 362 (SB 362) that continues the requirement that group health insurance plans provide for the treatment of mental health and substance abuse problems. SB 362 also removes the specified minimum amounts of coverage that a group health insurance policy must provide for the treatment of mental health and substance abuse problems but retains the requirements with respect to providing the coverage.  The bill specifically applies the requirements to all types of group health benefit plans, including defined network plans, insurance plans offered by the state, and governmental self-insured health plans of the state and municipalities.

This insurance mandate will have a huge negative impact on small employers and their workers.

The Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) reports SB 362 will disproportionately affect small business owners by increasing health insurance costs and premiums.

OCI produced a pie chart showing Wisconsinites health care coverage. During 2006, 29 percent of Wisconsin residents got their health care from private insurers, 36 percent from self-insured employers, 30 percent had public coverage, and five percent were uninsured.

The trend in Wisconsin since 1998 has been a decline in the number of residents covered by commercial providers while public coverage, self insured, and uninsured increased. The flow from commercial to public coverage is astounding.

More mandates like SB 362 result in further erosion of private insurance options for health care consumers. Approving legislation that will increase health insurance costs and premiums and force commercial providers to drop their coverage will not boost our struggling economy.

The legislation is also misleading, giving false hope to residents assumming they are covered.  As history indicates, small employers decide to discontinue employee health care benefits due to the rising costs.  Hard data and facts demonstrate this mandate will impose a horrible burden on our small employers resulting in more expensive health care or, in many cases, workers losing their coverage altogether.   Large employers have been able to avoid the mandates by self-insuring.  Employer's that self-insure may pick and choose benefits, and as the statistics reveal many large employers have escaped the government mandates.  Federal law is beginning to require mandates on self-insured and it will be interesting to observe the reaction of the employer's that took the self-insured route. 

I oppose onerous health care mandates on the engines of our economy, small business.  More importantly, I oppose the increase costs to workers and the further loss of health care coverage for the workers of small employers. I voted against SB 362.

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