As Wisconsin governor Jim Doyle announced his newly created Office of Health Care Reform as part of the state's pending healthcare legislation, the Associated Press obtained a memo that indicated the Democrat could use his veto power to expand the bill to provide insurance to virtually all of Wisconsin.
The memo, written by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau at the request of state Assembly, Rep. Jeff Fitzgerald said that Doyle could line-item veto the requirements that the state-run BadgerCare program be available only to those on the waiting list as well as any limits on the benefits that people in the program could receive.
"The suggestion is ridiculous," Doyle spokesman Adam Collins said. "This is just another desperate attempt by a few Republicans to stop a good program that will help tens of thousands of people get access to very basic healthcare at no cost to taxpayers."
The bill, as it passed the Senate, allows for only very limited benefits, which would be paid for through premiums and copays. Doyle and backers of the plan tout it as being self-funded, with no contribution from the state, according to the AP.
Even if Doyle had the power to transform the bill to provide universal healthcare with a few strokes of a pen, the move would be moot in 2014 when nearly all residents will be eligible for healthcare under the federal health reform law. Under Doyle's direction, Wisconsin is not joining the 18 states in suing to block healthcare reform, WDIO.com reported.