Common Ground Healthcare awarded $56.4 million federal loan

MILWAUKEE -- The Obama administration is awarding loans totaling more than $638 million to start up health care cooperatives serving eight states, including Wisconsin.

The government says the new non-profit health insurers will be run by their customers, and will be designed to offer coverage to individuals and small businesses.

In Wisconsin, "Common Ground Healthcare" received a $56 million loan. Awards were also announced for co-ops serving Montana, Iowa, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Oregon. They are envisioned as a way to offer affordable coverage when
President Barack Obama's health care reform law requires everyone
to carry insurance.

"We are now doing for small businesses what large businesses can do, which is self-insure ourselves. So if you can put 10,000 people together, you can do what Quad Graphics and Briggs and Stratton and Marquette do - they self-insure and keep costs down. The surpluses go back to the members in lower premiums," Bob Connolly with Common Ground Healthcare said.

The cooperative will begin serving its members as of January 1st, 2014. The headquarters will be in Milwaukee and will employe about 30 people.