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PNS Daily Newscast - September 30, 2020 

Trump and Biden square off in a debate marked by interruptions; COVID-19 highlights neglect of undocumented residents.

2020Talks - September 30, 2020 

Last night was filled with interruptions at the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

Health Insurance for Rural Wisconsinites Arriving Soon

March 31, 2011

MADISON, Wis. - Finding affordable health insurance has always been a challenge for rural Americans, but the Affordable Care Act, which became law just over a year ago, presents new opportunities for Wisconsin's farmers and rural residents by creating health-insurance exchanges.

Jon Bailey, director of research and analysis for the Center for Rural Affairs, says the new law was really designed for them.

"The groups that the exchange marketplace is meant for, in large numbers, are more predominant in rural areas than in urban areas. So the small businesses, the people who buy through the individual market, the uninsured, these are the people the exchange marketplace is meant for. Those who get health insurance through their work probably aren't going to be involved in this at all."

Challenges still lie ahead, Bailey says. Gov. Scott Walker is opposed to the Obama administration's health-care reforms, which say the new exchanges must be running by January 2014.

"There's about half the states that have governors who are opposed to the Affordable Care Act, but they're still going through the implementation, so it'll be interesting to see how they balance those two."

The federal government has provided implementation grants and expects all states to have a fairly clear idea by 2013 of how their health-insurance exchanges will be set up and administered.

The new law gives the states several options on how to actually set up the insurance marketplaces, Bailey says.

"Every state is just kind of making that basic decision right now: Do we want to run our own exchange or do we want the federal government to come in and do it? There's some other basic questions: Do we want to cooperate with other states? Have a regional exchange? Things like that."

Only five states - California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Utah and Washington - already have established such health-insurance marketplaces. Bailey says rural Americans always have had a higher likelihood of being uninsured, and making the exchanges attractive to rural communities and farmers will be among the tasks to come.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI