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Milwaukee Co. supervisor urges study on benefits of dropping employee health plans


MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - It’s not just private businesses that are talking about dropping their employee health insurance plans when the Obama health law takes full effect next year.

Milwaukee County Supervisor Deanna Alexander says it would be much cheaper for the county to pay the federal penalty for not offering employee insurance – and let about 4,400 public workers get their own coverage under the government’s new purchasing exchanges.

The idea does not appear to be going anywhere, but county employee benefits manager Matt Hanchek says it’s “absolutely appropriate” to study it.

Alexander asked the Milwaukee County Board’s Finance Committee for a full study – but the panel voted 8-1 against it Thursday.

The county plans to spend $110 million on employee health benefits this year, and Alexander says the federal penalty for dropping the coverage under the Obama law would be a relatively small $7.1 million. She said tons of money could be saved, although some of it could go to other government health programs.

Supervisor Theo Lipscomb says there’s no way he could support such a concept. He said the savings would result from the denying of health benefits to county workers.

Lipscomb said it would violate the spirit of the new federal health care law – if not the letter of the law.