Obamacare is broken, and the best place to fix it is in the states.
As Congress struggles with repealing and replacing Obamacare, leaders in Washington should examine how welfare was reformed in 1996. After vetoing previous legislation, President Bill Clinton signed into law the third welfare reform bill passed by Congress. It dramatically empowered states to improve our welfare system.
At the time, many liberals objected to the work requirements for able-bodied adults, while some conservatives complained that too much money was given to the states. Today, more than two decades later, the facts show the welfare reform law is an overwhelming success.
Governors including Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin and John Engler of Michigan used the new federal resources to dramatically reduce the number of individuals on public assistance in their states. They made welfare reform work.
Block grants to states remained stable through the years, saving taxpayers from the rapidly rising cost increases experienced prior to the passage of welfare reform. Today, states have a stable source of funding from the federal government called Temporary Aid to Needy Families which enables them to better transition people from government dependence to true independence through the dignity of work.
Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., who worked on welfare reform in 1996, recently reminded me of their path to success. It came from giving maximum authority to the states along with adequate funding. A model like this can work as part of repealing and replacing Obamacare.
Giving the resources and the responsibility to states is the key to success with healthcare and health insurance coverage. State leaders are more effective, more efficient, and more accountable to the people.
Adequately-funded block grants to the states, along with maximum flexibility and control, is the best option on the table. Sending funds to each state with no strings attached can bridge the divide between Medicaid expansion and non-expansion states. Leaving decisions over health insurance coverage to state leaders can resolve differences between moderate and conservative senators.
Most importantly, handing things over to the states can, and will, work.
In 1981, during his first inaugural address, President Ronald Reagan reminded us that the federal government did not create the states, the states created the federal government. Our founders were right. They intended for the federal government to have limited powers and the rest be given to the states and, more importantly, to the people.
Wisconsin chose not to take the Obamacare Medicaid expansion and not to set up a state exchange. Instead, we moved to cover everyone living in poverty through Medicaid for the first time in our history, while transitioning those above poverty into the marketplace. Today, Wisconsin is the only state in the top 10 for health insurance coverage that did not take the expansion, and a recent report ranks Wisconsin as the number one state in the nation for healthcare quality.
The Wisconsin Way is much better than the mess created by Obamacare.
Adequately-funded flexible block grants to the states are the last, best hope to finally repeal and replace Obamacare, a program which is collapsing before our very eyes. I stand ready to work with the president, his administration, and members of the House and Senate to draft and pass this better way forward.
Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., is the 45th governor of Wisconsin and chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
If you would like to write an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, please read our guidelines on submissions.