“COVID-19 Hot Zone in Brown County” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

“COVID-19 Hot Zone in Brown County” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

We review the latest Wisconsin coronavirus news, including the GOP lawsuit seeking to overturn the Governor’s Stay at Home order. Do the Republicans really have a case? The panel welcomes Up North News reporter Jonathon Sadowski to dig into the significant outbreak of COVID-19 in Brown County meat plants, the lax response from the corporate owners and county health officials, and Trump’s order to reopen infected packing plants nationwide. Supreme Court justice Dan Kelly announces he will unrecuse himself on the voter file purge case, and rule despite being fired by the voters. We also encourage everyone to request their absentee ballots for the primary and general elections, and if you live in the district the May 12th special election in the 7th Congressional District.
Listen Now – Episode#440
Download MP3
Press Clips

“Update: JBS in Green Bay announced it is resuming testing of its workers after we recorded this episode.”

Links:
US weekly jobless claims hit 3.84 million, topping 30 million over the last 6 weeks.
More than $290M in unemployment benefits disbursed in Wisconsin since March 15.
Unemployment phone problems persist; full call center staffing increases not expected until May.
Wisconsin coronavirus cases pass 6,500 as state says over 180 outbreaks are tied to nursing homes, other facilities.
Evers orders current budget cuts — but not furloughs. Yet.
Wisconsin Supreme Court ponders lawsuit against Safer at Home order.
Despite 330-plus Linked Cases, Green Bay Meat Plant Has Stopped Testing Employees. The County Has No Plans to Step In.
Some GB meat packing employees say recent safety changes aren’t enough.
OSHA Will Oversee Opening Of Meatpacking Plants Following Trump Order.
Number of positive coronavirus cases at Cudahy’s Smithfield plant ‘not yet known’; 503 employees tested, city says.
Special congressional election plans continue, after DHS reports COVID-19 related cases from last election.
New Poll: Americans Overwhelmingly Support Voting By Mail Amid Pandemic.

Bill Kaplan: Stupidity vs. stay-at-home

Bill Kaplan: Stupidity vs. stay-at-home

Photo by: Gage Skidmore

Nearly a million coronavirus cases nationally, including 5,687 in Wisconsin (WI), over 54,000 U.S. deaths and nearly 300 WI deaths. Dozens of cases linked to in-person voting on April 7 in Milwaukee. And, hundreds of cases confirmed among workers at a JBS meatpacking plant in Green Bay. No zip code is immune.

Meanwhile: “The federal government scrambled Friday to stave off a potential wave of public health emergencies sparked by … Trump’s dangerous suggestion that injecting bleach or other household disinfectants into the body might cure people of the novel coronavirus” (WP).

Does Trump read his intelligence briefings? Back in January 2019, U.S. intelligence agencies said: “We assess that the United States and the world will remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or large-scale outbreak of a contagious disease that could lead to massive rates of death and disability, severely affect the world economy, strain international resources …” (WP).

However, Trump is clueless, going from “liberate” (reopen) blue states to publicly criticizing Georgia GOP Governor Brian Kemp for reopening as coronavirus spikes there. The WP reported that Trump is “clear as mud”. Oklahoma GOP Representative Tom Cole has had enough: “You got to have some hope to sell people. But Trump usually sells anger, division and ‘we’re the victim’.” Moreover, Republican governors are showing public health leadership.

Maryland GOP Governor Larry Hogan, head of the bipartisan National Governors Association, said: “Every governor in America has been pushing and fighting … to get more (coronavirus) tests, not only from the federal government, but from every private lab in America and from all across the world.” Hogan, helped by his Korean-American wife, purchased testing kits from South Korea. Testing is central to reopening the economy, along with a decline in new cases, more personal protective and medical equipment, adequate hospital capacity and above all, contact tracing.

Massachusetts GOP Governor Charlie Baker has set aside $44 million to hire 1,000 people to do contact tracing to identify who has been exposed to coronavirus. This is a well-tested public health strategy. “The contact tracers … will inform the contact of approximately when they were exposed, and then take an inventory of symptoms, talk the contact through quarantine requirements, and help (if needed) arrange assistance with food or housing …” (NYT).

Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers is on the same page as both GOP governors. His “Badger Bounce Back Plan” is a public health (nonpartisan) proposal. Evers has tried to negotiate with the WI GOP-led legislature to invest in contact tracing. One idea advanced by the Journal of the American Medical Association has called for incoming medical students to be hired (pay and medical benefits) to do contact tracing. How about asking the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Medical College of Wisconsin to sign on?

Finally, Jay Timmons, head of the conservative National Association of Manufacturers, had a pungent post for extremist protesters demanding immediate reopening without conditions: “IDIOTS”. Is Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce listening? Doctors, nurses and public health leaders are. Stupidity is not an option.

–Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C., for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 – 2009.

Citizen Action Weekly: Citizen Action Organizes Health Professionals To Speak Out Against Social Distancing Protests

Citizen Action Weekly: Citizen Action Organizes Health Professionals To Speak Out Against Social Distancing Protests

Friday, April 24th

Citizen Action Organizes Health Professionals To Speak Out Against Social Distancing Protests

In video statements recorded this morning, health professionals explain why the the Governor’s Safer at Home order is an essential measure for containing COVID-19, creating conditions to gradually and safely reopen the economy 

This morning, Friday, April 24th, before scheduled State Capitol protests against Wisconsin’s most effective COVID-19 containment measure, public health professionals taped brief video interviews to discuss the situation. These dedicated caregivers hope by offering this testimony to counteract the disinformation being spread through social media and irresponsible national media outlets to mobilize opposition to social distancing. The health professionals explained why maintaining social distancing is essential for saving lives, protecting front line caregivers and other essential workers, and slowing the virus enough to safely reopen the economy.

Elizabeth Riley: Elizabeth is a nurse who recently returned to Wisconsin after spending several weeks working in a Brooklyn, NYC Intensive Care Unit. She describes the horror of the ICU, the horrible and lonely deaths of her patients, and her dread that Wisconsin could become like New York City if the Safer At Home order were lifted.

Watch Video

Jeff Weber: Jeff is the President of the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals. He worries about Wisconsin hospitals’ capacity being overrun with a surge of COVID-19 cases resulting from these protests and premature lifting of the Safer At Home order. He states we need two weeks of sustained decline in new cases before lifting the order.

Watch Video

Lynn Carey: Lynn is a nurse practitioner, educator, and PhD as well as a double lung transplant recipient. Her advice for beating this virus: “stay home!”

Watch Video

Victoria Gutierrez: Victoria is a frontline nurse in Madison. She is concerned that the capitol protest will cause an increase in COVID-19 cases and put strain on the already short supply of personal protective gear used by nurses.

Watch Video

Mary Milton: Mary is a frontline nurse in Milwaukee. She monitors the protective gear used by her hospital’s workers. She says she has “never seen such suffering” as that of her COVID-19 patients.

Watch Video

Emily Siegrist: Emily is a nurse and nurse educator from the Milwaukee area. She is worried about the lack of support for frontline health care professionals and that protesters today will not take protective measures.

Watch Video

“Front line health professionals, many of whom are risking their own health treating the victims of COVID-19, are urging the people of Wisconsin to maintain social distancing as the best way to contain this deadly pandemic,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “If we are going to pull together and meet this challenge, we need to start listening to the scientists and the front-line caregivers, not the cynical politicians and billionaires seeking to exploit the crisis for their own purposes.”

For more detail on Citizen Action of Wisconsin’s COVID-19 policy proposals, see our March news release and memo to the Governor, and a recent column.

The State of Wisconsin’s unique “Work Sharing” program can help people keep their jobs and healthcare, reduce unemployment and offer relief to small businesses during the COVID19 outbreak.

One of the major parts of Citizen Action of Wisconsin’s people power COVID19 relief program takes advantage of Wisconsin’s unique “work sharing” program. This program allows employers to opt into a program so they can offer unemployment benefits to employees who have their hours cut without paying more in unemployment insurance. This program will compensate employees, allow them to keep their jobs, keep their health insurance AND be eligible for the federal unemployment benefit of $600 in addition to unemployment and pay for hours worked.

More information about the program, an FAQ, and a video explaining the program can be found here.

Citizen Action of Wisconsin is working to get as many employers as possible signed up for this program as possible to prevent layoffs and guarantee people have a job to return to while still being able to pay their bills through this crisis. If you know any business owners or employees who could benefit for this program please direct them to this link 

TAKE ACTION: Contact Governor Evers and the State Legislature in Support of Citizen Action’s COVID-19 Response Platform

Citizen Action members are writing, calling, emailing, tweeting, and messaging our elected officials asking for free Covid-19 testing and treatment for all Wisconsinites. Get started HERE

Governor Evers and state officials moved decisively to mandate social distancing and Stay at Home, so we have a much better chance of slowing the pandemic and preventing our hospitals from being overwhelmed.

The next critical thing Wisconsin can do is universal COVID-19 testing and treatment. This is the only way to identify everyone who has been infected, and interrupt the deadly chains of disease transmission. We need to start by testing and treating everyone with symptoms, and then test community-wide to identify seemingly healthy people spreading the infection.

First, we must make cost-free all medical follow up and treatment that results from seeking a test, both for COVID-19 and any other urgent medical issues that are discovered. Second, we must make it crystal clear to the public that they will receive no medical bills. This is the only way to assure that hard pressed working and middle class Wisconsinites are not deterred from testing and treatment by ruinous costs.

Citizen Action has a commonsense COVID-19 health care plan.

1) Use emergency powers granted by the federal government to deploy BadgerCare to guarantee that everyone has health coverage during the pandemic. These powers include removing all barriers to quick enrollment, cost sharing, and work requirements, suspension of cancellation, eliminating cost sharing and work requirements, and allowing medical providers to presume that uninsured people are eligible.

2) Immediately expand BadgerCare by accepting the Medicaid Expansion authorized by the Affordable Care Act. This would both cover at least 75,000 more people, and free up $340 million that can be immediately deployed in the fight to contain COVID-19, including Wisconsin getting its fair share of testing kits and critical medical supplies.

3) Mandate that health insurance plans pay fully for all treatment resulting from seeking medical attention for COVID-19. So far, Wisconsin has only recommended that insurers suspend copays and deductibles. If this creates too much of a burden on health insurers, Wisconsin can suspend hospital price gouging by requiring them to accept Medicare rates for all treatment that results from a COVID-19 test.

Send an email today to Governor Evers and state legislators. 

Driftless co-op COVID19 relief planning town halls

The Citizen Action of Wisconsin Driftless Co-op is hosting a series of planning town halls to craft a relief effort during Wisconsin’s COVID19 outbreak. We are building a plan to address concerns around healthcare, utilities, mortgage/rent payments, and small business relief. We would like to hear from you as we build these plans. Please RSVP to join one of these upcoming town halls co hosted by Driftless co-op members.3

Lewis Kuhlman COVID19 relief planning town hall 4-28, 6:00 to 7:00 (shared with La Crosse DSA members) More Information.
Joni Anderson COVID19 relief planning town hall 4-29, 3:00 to 4:00 More information.

Citizen Action of Wisconsin is leading a people powered COVID19 relief effort

Citizen Action of Wisconsin  has  been crafting a response to the COVID19 crisis that will help put money in people’s pockets, reduce unemployment, reduce utility costs, help small businesses, expand healthcare, fight climate change and protect Wisconsin’s green business sectors. You can learn more about the relief package we are working on by viewing this PowerPoint.

Some of our programs might be able to help you right now!  Please use fill out this survey to find out if our programs can help you.  Please feel free to share this survey with anyone struggling during this time.

Help Elect Tricia Zunker for Congress, Tuesday, May 12th

If you live in CD 7 you should apply today for your absentee ballot!

The 2020 election fight continues in the 7th Congressional District where Citizen Action co-op member Tricia Zunker, is running to replace Sean Duffy. The election is scheduled for Tuesday, May 12th.

We need your help making calls! Please contact your regional co-op organizer to get involved from home.

Candidate town hall with Co-op member and Congressional candidate Dr. Mark Neumann

This past week the Driftless co-op hosted a candidate town hall with Dr. Mark Neumann who is running for Congress in Wisconsin’s 3rd congressional district.  Topics included the need for single payer healthcare, Israel and Palestine, environmental concerns, how to work with those with a different political viewpoint and the need for radical empathy in American Politics.  You can view a recording of the town hall at this link.  Citizen Action will be reaching out to Congressman Ron Kind, Mark’s primary opponent to offer the opportunity for a town hall as well.

Citizen Action in the News

Citizen Action Director Robert Kraig discussed the social distancing protests, and the COVID-19 situation in Wisconsin for an hour on the Earl Ingram Radio Show. Listen here.

Two Citizen Action members were highlighted for their role in the Milwaukee City-County Climate & Economic Equity Taskforce in the Shepherd Express. The task force is the centerpiece of Citizen Action’s strategy to initiate a just and racially equitable climate transition in Southeast Wisconsin.

Citizen Action Director Robert Kraig discussed why conservatives are ideologically blind on COVID-19, and how the Biden campaign can be made more progressive, for an hour on the Jeff Santos Radio show. Listen here.

“Capitol COVID crisis” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

The GOP war on public health continues in Wisconsin with Republican legislative leaders appealing to the right-wing Wisconsin Supreme Court to overturn the Governor’s stay at home order and inciting dangerous protests at the state capitol scheduled for Friday. We welcome attorney Mark Thomsen, who specializes in medical malpractice and nursing home neglect, to discuss Speaker Vos’s repugnant amendment to COVID-19 relief legislation which could make it impossible to sue for any kind of nursing home abuse. The amendment was shamefully introduced on behalf of the WI Hospital Association, WI Medical Society, and WI Assisted Living Association. We close with a look at this fall’s state legislative elections and why they are so important to the healthy and prosperity of Wisconsin.

Listen Now – Episode #439
Download MP3
Press Clips

Facebook post of the week

“Capitol COVID crisis” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

“Capitol COVID crisis” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

The GOP war on public health continues in Wisconsin with Republican legislative leaders appealing to the right-wing Wisconsin Supreme Court to overturn the Governor’s stay at home order and inciting dangerous protests at the state capitol scheduled for Friday. We welcome attorney Mark Thomsen, who specializes in medical malpractice and nursing home neglect, to discuss Speaker Vos’s repugnant amendment to COVID-19 relief legislation which could make it impossible to sue for any kind of nursing home abuse. The amendment was shamefully introduced on behalf of the WI Hospital Association, WI Medical Society, and WI Assisted Living Association. We close with a look at this fall’s state legislative elections and why they are so important to the healthy and prosperity of Wisconsin.

Listen Now – Episode #439
Download MP3
Press Clips

Links:
26 million have sought US jobless aid since the virus hit
Lawmakers advance small business relief bill without extra cash for states.
Wisconsin sees jump in coronavirus cases as golf courses plan to open and some local leaders map out how to ease restrictions.
Despite rejected permit, organizers forge ahead with Friday rally in Madison to reopen state.
What’s going on with Reopen Wisconsin? The right-wing interests, government employees and healthcare workers in the private Facebook group planning a rally on Friday.
‘Reasonable,’ or ‘repugnant?’ Wisconsin lawyers, health care groups debate fallout of COVID-19 legislation changes.
Legislative Democrat will run for re-election! After many announced retirements, Assembly Democratic leader Gordon Hintz says he plans to run again.

Citizen Action Weekly: Friday, April 17th

Citizen Action Weekly: Friday, April 17th

Friday, April 17th

Join Citizen Action for our event “Collective Care in the Time of COVID”

Citizen Action has partnered with People’s Action to host an online live event this Saturday, April 18th, at 2:30pm called Collective Care in the Time of COVID.

Individual action and social distancing–while critical–aren’t enough to solve this crisis. During this event, we’ll discuss and celebrate the ways we’re all taking care of each other through the pandemic. Hear from experts about how we got here and discuss what we can do to not only get through, but build a better future. At the end, we’ll collectively take action to demand a Health Care Emergency Guarantee from Congress that includes free testing, treatment, and vaccines for all!

Northwest Wisconsin co-op member Dr. Rita Simon will be a featured speaker, as will Dr. Abdul El-Sayed. Dr. El-Sayed is a physician, epidemiologist, public health expert, and Political Contributor at CNN. He is also the author of the book Healing Politics, calling for a politics of empathy to cure our epidemic of insecurity, and host of the podcast “America Dissected.”

Register for the event here!

State Legislative Action on COVID-19 Grossly Inadequate

Without free testing and treatment, Wisconsin will not slow down the transmission of the virus, or allow safe reopening of economy 

With the slow and uncoordinated federal response to the coronavirus pandemic paralyzing the country, the burden of leadership has fallen on state governments. Many states are stepping up to the task, and filling in as many gaps which should have been covered by the federal government as possible.

But legislative Republicans are blocking the emergency actions Wisconsin must take to slow the pandemic. This leadership malpractice will cost lives, and likely increase already appalling racial disparities in who dies during the pandemic. It will also move back the timeline for when Wisconites can safely go back to work, setting up a terrible choice between lives and economic livelihoods.

Of the many critical actions needed from the state government, Citizen Action of Wisconsin has focused on the need for free COVID-19 testing and treatment. Unless we remove the cost barriers to identify and treat the virus, we will never do the level of contact tracing and virus isolation that is needed to save lives and safely reopen the economy.

The Republicans in the Legislature this week blocked the advances towards free testing and treatment proposed by Governor Evers. The plan that passed the Assembly on Tuesday and the Senate on Wednesday does not include a mandate of free COVID-19 treatment for private health plans, which can average $10,000 to $20,000 dollars, more if the patient needs intensive care. It also fails to give the Governor the flexibility to fully leverage BadgerCare to expand health coverage during the emergency to uninsured Wisconsinites. In addition, the plan does not limit the cancellation of health coverage during the pandemic, which will increase the ranks of the uninsured. It also leaves in place insurance deductibles for testing, creating a dangerous barrier to finding out who in Wisconsin is infected.

In a pandemic, the fear of financially crippling medical bills is a grave risk to the entire community because it discourages people from seeking care. A survey by Citizen Action and the Healthcare Value Hub found that nearly half of Wisconsinites have gone without needed medical care because of fear of the cost in the last year. A national study by the Commonwealth Fund found that 68% of Americans consider copays and deductibles important in determining whether or not they will seek COVID 19 treatment.

The overwhelming cost of health care, which is dangerous in normal times, is absolutely deadly during a pandemic because it is a barrier to universal testing and treatment needed to contain and isolate the virus. This is the only way to identify everyone who has been infected, and interrupt the deadly chains of disease transmission. The disparity in access to health care is one of the drivers of the appalling racial disparities in who is contracting the virus and who is dying.

There is an overwhelming consensus among public health experts that we must have a massive testing and treatment program to contain this virus and to begin to reopen the economy. We need to start by testing and treating everyone with symptoms, and do contact tracing to isolate those who are infected. This must include testing community-wide to identify seemingly healthy people spreading the virus.

“In a major crisis when lives and livelihoods are at stake, it is critical that elected leaders step up to the scale of the challenge, said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “It is deeply disturbing that Wisconsin Republicans have decided to hamstring Governor Evers, and depend on a federal administration which has already shown itself unable to rise to the task.”  We need immediate emergency health care and economic policies which address the gravity of the situation, Kraig continued. “The COVID-19 pandemic focuses us on the reality that we are all interconnected, and that leaving people out of our healthcare system risks the lives of everyone in the community,”

For more detail on Citizen Action of Wisconsin’s COVID-19 policy proposals, see our March news release and memo to the Governor, and a column in early April.

Coffee with your co-op Virtual, Saturday, April 18th, 9:30 AM 

Grab a cup of coffee or tea and join us to stay connected to your fellow Northeast WI Co-op members and supporters during social distancing. We want to hear how everyone is holding up as well as get your reflections on the April 7th election and other co-op news.

Optional: At the end of the call, steering committee member Renee will lead a mindfulness exercise for anyone interested in incorporating some healing practices into their activism.

Join tomorrow, Saturday, April 18th, 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM

Zoom link to join: https://zoom.us/meeting/98077998912

Citizen Action in the News

The Green Bay Press Gazette has a story about the victories of progressive women challengers in local races against entrenched incumbents, including several Citizen Action members. The story mentions the decisive role Citizen Action played in one of the key races. If you live in Greater Green Bay or the Fox Valley, you can get involved in Citizen Actions Northeast Wisconsin Organizing Co-op by contacting organizer Noah Reif noah.reif@citizenactionwi.org

Citizen Action’s Director Robert Kraig did sat down for a long video interview with Up North News on why Bernie Sanders came up short in the Democratic Presidential Primary, what it means for winning Wisconsin in November, and how progressives can continue to advance the bold agenda Sanders and Warren ran on.

Wisconsin Health News reported on Citizen Action’s critique of the state coronavirus relief package that passed this week without guaranteeing free testing and treatment for COVID-19

Driftless co-op COVID19 relief planning town halls

The Citizen Action of Wisconsin Driftless Co-op is hosting a series of planning town halls to craft a relief effort during Wisconsin’s COVID19 outbreak. We are building a plan to address concerns around healthcare, utilities, mortgage/rent payments, and small business relief. We would like to hear from you as we build these plans. Please RSVP to join one of these upcoming town halls co hosted by Driftless co-op members.3

Amy Dummer COVID19 relief planning town hall, 4-21, 7:00 to 8:00 More info.

Lewis Kuhlman COVID19 relief planning town hall 4-28, 6:00 to 7:00 (shared with La Crosse DSA members) More info.

Joni Anderson COVID19 relief planning town hall 4-29, 3:00 to 4:00 More info.

Town Hall with congressional candidate Mark Neumann

Citizen Action of Wisconsin will be hosting a virtual town hall with congressional candidate, and Citizen Action member, Mark Neumann on Monday April 20th from 6:00 to 8:00. Mark is running a primary challenge against Ron Kind in Wisconsin’s 3rd congressional seat. This event will be hosted on Zoom. Please RSVP to receive the Zoom link. If you would like to submit a question for Mark please email Ben Wilson at ben.wilson@citizenactionwi.org with your questions.

RSVP link: https://secure.everyaction.com/qHgH3IIr3USCFDy0GWialA2

Citizen Action of Wisconsin’s Members Win Big All Across Wisconsin!!

The results of Tuesday, April 7th election were announced this Monday evening and 29 Citizen Action members won elections to office this week Congratulations!

  • Katie Rosenberg, Mayor of Wausau
  • Dennis McBride, Mayor of Wauwatosa
  • JoCasta Zamarripa, Milwaukee City Council, District 8
  • Liz Sumner, Milwaukee County Board, District 1
  • Marcelia Nicholson, Milwaukee County Board, District 5
  • Steve Shea, Milwaukee County Board, District 8
  • Supreme Moore, Milwaukee County Board, District 10
  • Joseph J. Czarnezki, Milwaukee County Board, District 11
  • Sylvia Ortiz-Velez, Milwaukee County Board, District 12
  • Tom Kilian, Wausau City Council, District 3
  • Sarah Watson, Wausau City Council, District 8
  • Robert Hanson, Greenfield School Board
  • Ka Lo, Marathon County Board, District 5 & Wausau School Board
  • Yee Leng Xiong, Marathon County Board, District 19, Village of Weston Board of Trustees, and DC Everest School Board
  • Jonathan Fisher, Marathon County Board, District 38
  • Steven Schreier, Oneida County Board, District 4
  • Sandy Fischer, Langlade County Board, District 2
  • Lindsay Dorff, Brown County Board, District 4
  • Megan Borchardt, Brown County Board, District 8
  • Cassandra Erickson Brown County Board, District 19
  • Barbara Dorff, Green Bay City Council, District 1
  • Randy Scannel Green Bay City Council, District 7
  • Emily Voight, Calumet County Board,  District 3
  • Cathy Thompson, Outagamie County Board, District 1
  • Zoe Roberts,Eau Claire County Board, District 27
  • Donald Mowry, Eau Claire County Board, District 9
  • James Dunning, Eau Claire County Board, District 20
  • Connie Russell, Eau Claire County Board, District 4
  • Monica Kruse, LaCrosse County Board, District 15

Help Elect Tricia Zunker for Congress, Tuesday, May 12th

The 2020 election fight continues in the 7th Congressional District where Citizen Action co-op member Tricia Zunker, is running to replace Sean Duffy, who quit prematurely, citing family needs, but then took a job on K Street immediately after leaving Northern WI without representation. The election is scheduled for Tuesday, May 12th.

We need your help making calls! Please contact your regional co-op organizer to get involved from home.

If you live in CD 7 you should apply today for your absentee ballot!

For anyone in need of a Tricia Zunker yard sign, you can one pick up from my Tricia’s home in Wausau. Please send Tricia a message on facebook and she will provide her address and make sure signs are left out for you. You can also contact your local Democratic Party office to see if they can deliver signs.

Can you help us work to protect the vital renewable energy sector in our area? How solar can protect jobs and support local businesses!

Citizen Action of Wisconsin has been working to urge financial institutions to make it easier for working Wisconsinites to upgrade their homes, and how we have the chance to support a critical source of jobs during this crisis: solar installers. Once the fastest growing job in the nation, we want to support them to protect our economy while fighting for the planet, which is why we are looking into a “Group Buy” to help people navigate the math of energy efficiency and if this moment can help their pocketbook, workers, small businesses and the plant.

Learn more!

“What leadership looks like in a pandemic” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast    

We welcome State Representatives Marisabel Cabrera and Jonathan Brostoff to discuss their courageous votes against the very weak COVID-19 relief that clear the Legislature this week. Republicans in the Legislature blocked efforts to include free testing and treatment, a vital step we must take to contain the pandemic, address racial inequality, and open up the economy. The inadequate legislation was signed by Gov. Evers, who had tried to secure a mandate that health insurance companies not charge co-pays or co-insurance fees for COVID 19 treatment. The plan also fails to limit cancellation of health coverage during the pandemic, which will increase the ranks of the uninsured. It also leaves in place insurance deductibles for testing, creating a dangerous barrier to finding out who in Wisconsin is infected.

Listen Now – Episode #438
Download MP3
Press Clips

Citizen Action COVID-19 Action Center.

Facebook post of the week

“What leadership looks like in a pandemic” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

“What leadership looks like in a pandemic” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

We welcome State Representatives Marisabel Cabrera and Jonathan Brostoff to discuss their courageous votes against the very weak COVID-19 relief that clear the Legislature this week. Republicans in the Legislature blocked efforts to include free testing and treatment, a vital step we must take to contain the pandemic, address racial inequality, and open up the economy. The inadequate legislation was signed by Gov. Evers, who had tried to secure a mandate that health insurance companies not charge co-pays or co-insurance fees for COVID 19 treatment. The plan also fails to limit cancellation of health coverage during the pandemic, which will increase the ranks of the uninsured. It also leaves in place insurance deductibles for testing, creating a dangerous barrier to finding out who in Wisconsin is infected.

Listen Now – Episode #438
Download MP3
Press Clips

Citizen Action COVID-19 Action Center.

Links:
Legislative Action on COVID-19 Grossly Inadequate. Without free testing and treatment, Wisconsin will not slow down the transmission of the virus, or allow safe reopening of economy.
Wisconsin stay-at-home order likely extends to May as coronavirus cases grow, but more help is coming for the unemployed.
‘We Alerted The World’ To Coronavirus On Jan. 5, WHO Says In Response To U.S.
Another 5.2M Americans file for unemployment benefits as layoffs continue.
After weeks of wrangling, Wisconsin’s COVID-19 relief law is signed.
Evers Signs Wisconsin COVID-19 Bill.
Gov. Tony Evers signs Wisconsin coronavirus relief bill, though there is criticism of how it treats first responders.

“If We’ve Only Got One Shot, We Have to Get This Right” Reps. Brostoff and Cabrera Statement on COVID-19 ‘relief’ bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: April 14, 2020
Contact: Representative Brostoff, (414) 708-9878

“If We’ve Only Got One Shot, We Have to Get This Right”

Reps. Brostoff and Cabrera Statement on AB 1038

MILWAUKEE – In response to their vote against Assembly Bill (AB) 1038 earlier today, State Rep. Jonathan Brostoff (D-Milwaukee) and State Rep. Marisabel Cabrera (D-Milwaukee) released the following statement:

“While it was not an easy decision, I could not in good conscience vote for the COVID-19 ‘relief’ bill that was put before us today. While AB 1038 does include some important and helpful measures, they amount to little more than scraps for the thousands of Wisconsinites who have already been forced to wait while Republicans dragged their feet on providing relief to our citizens. Working people in Wisconsin had to wait over a month for any relief from the Legislature, and this Republican masterclass in tepid half-measures is all they get? Where is the needed funding for our healthcare systems and frontline workers? Where is the mortgage and rent abatement? Where are the provisions to make sure that all COVID-19 treatment is affordable? Where is the help for childcare providers? Where is the expanded food assistance for families that have lost income? Where are the measures to protect vulnerable inmates in our prison system, who are unable to practice safe social distancing? Where is the support for small businesses blindsided by this crisis? Where is the aid for nursing homes and long-term care facilities? Where are the provisions to make sure the rest of this year’s elections can be conducted safely? And again, I ask, where is the substantive relief for our working families?” Brostoff continued,“If we’ve only got one shot, we have to get this right.”

Rep. Cabrera added, “Healthcare, frontline, and ALL other essential workers deserve to be provided with proper personal protection equipment, fully paid sick time, hazard pay, and full healthcare coverage for risking their lives and that of their families in order to keep the rest of us safe.  Furthermore, we cannot ask the working families of Wisconsin to stay home and not provide them with; first, the economic security to be able to pay for food, shelter, and other basic living expenses; and secondly, full healthcare coverage for testing and treatment related to COVID-19. I believe this is the bare minimum Wisconsinites expected from us today. Unfortunately, this and so much more is missing from this bill without justification.”

Earlier today, the Wisconsin State Assembly convened virtually to debate and vote on Assembly Bill 1038, a bill to provide state-level assistance to mitigate the COVID-19 crisis. While the bill has been cast by Republicans as a “compromise” measure between themselves, the Governor’s office, and legislative Democrats, the few positive reforms that the bill proposes will only be temporary, and many of the needed, substantive proposals put forth by legislative Democrats were left out of the final bill entirely. Moreover, Republicans used the mammoth omnibus bill and the cover of the COVID-19 pandemic to reintroduce a previously-failed measure to cut training hours for certified nursing assistants (CNAs), thereby putting vulnerable Wisconsinites in harm’s way both during and long after the COVID-19 crisis passes.

Brostoff concluded, “Republicans have indicated that this bill presents the upper limit of what measures they are willing to consider to help Wisconsin’s families. And on top of that, they decided to use this crisis to sneak in one last-ditch partisan attack on consumer protections and our CNAs. If Republicans truly believe that half-measures and political games are what Wisconsinites deserve during an unprecedented crisis, I absolutely refuse to cosign that sentiment. AB 1038 is a pig with lipstick, and it doesn’t deserve to win any beauty contests.”

###

Legislature Must Do Better on Free Testing and Treatment for COVID 19


For Immediate Release: April 13, 2020
Contact: Robert Kraig (414) 322-5324 robert.kraig@citizenactionwi.org

Link to release here

Legislature Must Do Better on Free Testing and Treatment for COVID 19

Governor’s Relief Plan Makes Progress on Free Treatment which is excluded in GOP package

Statewide: A major difference between Governor Evers and State Legislative leadership will, unless addressed, hamper Wisconsin’s COVID-19 containment efforts, cost lives, and move back the timeline for beginning to put people back to work. It also will likely increase already appalling racial disparities in who dies during the pandemic.

Governor Evers’ relief proposal makes progress on free testing and treatment of COVID-19, mandating that all private health plans the state can regulate are forbidden from charging  copays and deductibles, and limiting the extent to which insurers can cancel coverage for non-payment. It also gives the administration authority to open up BadgerCare to more uninsured Wisconsinites.

The Republican legislative plan does not include a mandate of free COVID-19 treatment for private health plans, which can average $10,000 to $20,000 dollars, more if the patient needs intensive care. It also fails to give the Governor the flexibility to fully leverage BadgerCare to expand health coverage during the emergency to uninsured Wisconsinites. In addition, the GOP plan does not limit the cancellation of health coverage during the pandemic, which will increase the ranks of the uninsured.

The failure of the Republican relief plan to make all COVID-19 treatment free, and provide the flexibility to extend BadgerCare to more uninsured Wisconsinites, will dramatically weaken the COVID-19 response and delay efforts to reopen the economy.

In a pandemic, the fear of financially crippling medical bills is a grave risk to the entire community because it discourages people from seeking care. A survey by Citizen Action and the Healthcare Value Hub found that nearly half of Wisconsinites have gone without needed medical care because of fear of the cost in the last year. A national study by the

Commonwealth Fund found that 68% of Americans consider copays and deductibles important in determining whether or not they will seek COVID 19 treatment.

The overwhelming cost of health care, which is dangerous in normal times, is absolutely deadly during a pandemic because it is a barrier to universal testing and treatment needed to contain and isolate the virus. This is the only way to identify everyone who has been infected, and interrupt the deadly chains of disease transmission.

There is an overwhelming consensus among public health experts that we must have a massive testing and treatment program to contain this virus and to begin to reopen the economy. We need to start by testing and treating everyone with symptoms, and do contact tracing to isolate those who are infected. This must include testing community-wide to identify seemingly healthy people spreading the virus.

Critically, the failure to extend BadgerCare to the uninsured, will both make it much harder to contain the virus and further increase the documented Wisconsin racial disparities in infection and death rates.

We estimate based on modeling by the Economic Policy Institute that includes the people who lost coverage due to mass layoffs, there are now likely over 400,000 uninsured Wisconsinites. People of Color are substantially more likely to be uninsured. Guaranteeing free testing for those with health coverage, and leaving the uninsured on their own for testing and treatment, is likely to intensify morally repugnant racial disparities in COVID-19 deaths, while also undermining virus containment efforts.

“The COVID-19 pandemic focuses us on the reality that we are all interconnected, and that leaving people out of our healthcare system risks the lives of everyone in the community,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “Thousands of Wisconsinites who could otherwise have avoided infection may be needlessly put at risk if we don’t come together to assure that no one in Wisconsin delays or avoids treatment because they can’t afford the high cost of healthcare. A failure to eliminate the cost barrier to treatment also will cause ongoing economic carnage by forcing the state to continue to lock down huge sectors of the workforce.”

For more detail on Citizen Action of Wisconsin’s COVID-19 policy proposals, see a news release and memo to the Governor in March, and a column in early April.

Link to release

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Bill Kaplan: Coronavirus impacts all of Wisconsin

Bill Kaplan: Coronavirus impacts all of Wisconsin

Coronavirus impacts the entire nation, with over 530,000 cases and 20,000 plus deaths nationally. The Midwest is a hot spot, with Wisconsin having over 3,200 cases and an increasing death toll. Only a handful of state counties do not yet have confirmed cases. Doctor Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), said: “I would characterize the risk in all Wisconsin counties as high.” Milwaukee has the worst of it, with stark racial disparities. But no zip code is immune.

The NYT reports: “A new wave of coronavirus cases is spreading deep into rural corners of the country where people once hoped their communities might be shielded because of their isolation from hard-hit urban centers …”. The MJS highlighted a Polk County young dairy farmer recovering from coronavirus. Wisconsin is not out of the woods. Now is not the time to reopen golf courses or permit large gatherings at religious houses of worship, as some misguided state GOP legislators demanded.

Coronavirus is also causing unparalleled economic misery. But with no vaccine or proven treatment, social distancing remains the best defense. Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers and DHS Secretary Andrea Palm have taken the same steps as Democratic and many GOP governors, marching alongside Ohio GOP Governor Mike DeWine. He has been “a national guide to the crisis” and his “early outbreak preparation and intervention may be paying off” (WP). Ohio has fewer cases and deaths than some Midwest states. Might be true for Wisconsin.

But Trump’s initial refusal to take the pandemic seriously has been costly. The WP reported: “70 days of denial, delays and dysfunction”. Governors had no recourse but to issue states of emergency and stay at home policies. More than 17 million Americans, including over 313,000 Wisconsinites, have filed for unemployment benefits. The national and Wisconsin jobless rates are moving to 20 percent plus. And, our health care system is threatened as millions lose employer-provided private insurance.

However, Trump refuses to reopen enrollment in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) federal marketplace (covers 38 states), while still supporting having the ACA declared unconstitutional. 11 states with their own marketplaces have reopened enrollment. But Wisconsin doesn’t have its own marketplace or Medicaid expansion because of state Republicans’ irrational partisan opposition. It’s time for state GOP legislators such as Senator Luther Olsen to consider their legacy. Circumstances have changed. Wisconsinites have lost health coverage when needed most. And, the health system in rural Wisconsin is in big trouble.

Study after study (Chartis and Guidehouse – formerly Navigant) show many Wisconsin rural hospitals are financially vulnerable or at risk. Uncompensated care for a disproportionately elderly, ill and poor rural population will be devastating. And, rural hospitals lack intensive care beds, ventilators, nurses and doctors. It is long past time to end the rural-urban divide.

With over 313,000 Wisconsinites losing their jobs and private health insurance, Medicaid expansion with its fiscal benefits is imperative. And, time to support Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin’s asking Trump to reopen ACA enrollment.

–Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C. for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 – 2009

Citizen Action Weekly: Friday, April 10th

Citizen Action Weekly: Friday, April 10th

Friday, April 10th

Thanks to All the Volunteers in Citizen Action’s Spring Election Program

The April 7th election was historically messed up and undemocratic!

However, the effort of all the volunteers who made thousands of phone calls in the middle of the pandemic is the best of American democracy.

Thanks to the volunteers and Citizen Action staff we were able make over 22,000 phone calls in support of Jill Karofsky and knock nearly 4,000 doors this spring.

We will need this effort and so much more this year to defeat President Trump and elect more progressive leaders to the State Legislature.

Thank you to the Citizen Action members who ran for office this spring election. We wish you the best on Monday, April 13th when the results are announced.

  • Chris Larson, Milwaukee County Executive
  • Katie Rosenberg, Mayor of Wausau
  • Dennis McBride, Mayor of Wauwatosa
  • JoCasta Zamarripa, Milwaukee City Council, District 8
  • Liz Sumner, Milwaukee County Board, District 1
  • Joseph J. Czarnezki, Milwaukee County Board, District 11
  • Sylvia Ortiz-Velez, Milwaukee County Board, District 12
  • Tom Kilian, Wausau City Council, District 3
  • Sarah Watson, Wausau City Council, District 8
  • Ka Lo, Marathon County Board, District 5 & Wausau School Board
  • Yee Leng Xiong, Marathon County Board, District 19, Village of Weston Board of Trustees, and DC Everest School Board
  • Jonathan Fisher, Marathon County Board, District 38
  • Mark Martello, Tomahawk School Board
  • Steven Schreier, Oneida County Board, District 4
  • Sandy Fischer, Langlade County Board, District 2
  • Lindsay Dorff, Brown County Board, District 4
  • Megan Borchardt, Brown County Board, District 8
  • Cassandra Erickson Brown County Board, District 19
  • Barbara Dorff, Green Bay City Council, District 1
  • Randy Scannel Green Bay City Council, District 7
  • Emily Voight, Calumet County Board,  District 3
  • Zoe Roberts,Eau Claire County Board, District 27
  • Donald Mowry, Eau Claire County Board, District 9
  • James Dunning, Eau Claire County Board, District 20
  • Connie Russell, Eau Claire County Board, District 4

Help Elect Tricia Zunker for Congress, Tuesday, May 12th

The 2020 election fight continues immediately in the 7th Congressional District where Citizen Action co-op member Tricia Zunker is running to replace Sean Duffy. The election is scheduled for Tuesday, May 12th.

We need your help making calls! Please contact your regional co-op organizer to get involved from home.

If you live in CD 7 you should apply today for your absentee ballot!

For anyone in need of a Tricia Zunker yard sign, you can one pick up from my Tricia’s home in Wausau. Please send Tricia a message on facebook and she will provide her address and make sure signs are left out for you.

TAKE ACTION: COVID-19 Reponse

The need to organize has never been more urgent than in this great national emergency.

The government only acts in the common interest when average people organize to make our collective voices impossible to ignore. Great leadership is not a matter of chance, it is called forth by active and engaged citizens working together.

This Action Center will be a clearinghouse for Citizen Action members and friends to focus our voices on enacting necessary policies to the scale of the crisis.

Citizen Action’s COVID-19 demands of elected leaders are guided by these principles.

  1. With lives hanging in the balance, we don’t have the luxury of dwelling on past mistakes. There will be a future time for honest accounting.
  2. We must suspend normal politics, and do absolutely everything possible to save the maximum number of human lives.
  3. We must fight for true equity. We cannot allow a replay of Hurricane Katrina on a bigger scale, where race and class often decided who lived and who died.
  4. We must put aside outdated limits on what is possible, and act with the radical boldness of Americans in past national emergencies such as the Great Depression and both World Wars.
  5. Crisis mitigation is our first priority, but we must not waste the opportunity to sow the seeds of a more just and equitable America that is resilient to future disasters.

Health Care Policies to Contain the Pandemic

The Challenge

COVID-19 has spread invisibly across the entire population. To stop the contagion we must test and treat everyone with symptoms, and then once there is sufficient testing capacity, community-wide, identifying seemingly healthy people spreading the infection.

The Barrier

The high cost of care in our profit-crazed medical system is a major barrier to containing the pandemic. A Citizen Action/Health Value Hub survey of 1,000 Wisconsinites found that in the past year nearly half had avoided necessary medical care due to cost.

The Citizen Action Plan

Citizen Action has developed a plan for Wisconsin to guarantee universal free testing and treatment.

1) Use emergency powers granted by the federal government to deploy BadgerCare to guarantee that everyone has health coverage during the pandemic.

2) Immediately expand BadgerCare by accepting the Medicaid Expansion authorized by the Affordable Care Act. (This covers at least 75,000 more people, and frees up $340 million that can be immediately put into the COVID-19 fight).

3) Mandate that health insurance plans pay for all treatment resulting from seeking medical attention for COVID-19, including pre-existing which make the virus more dangerous.

Action Needed

We need you to contact Governor Evers, your State Senator, and your State Representative, and urge them to make free testing and treatment for COVID-19 part of the relief bill now being drafted. This Free treatment must include care for any pre-existing conditions that are contributing to the intensity of the COVID-19 symptoms.

  1. Email Governor and Legislators
  2. Call the Governor and Your State Legislator

Governors #1-608-266-1212
Leg Hotline # 1-800-362-9472

Citizen Action’s Memo to Governor Evers on Free Testing and Treatment
Listen to Citizen Action’s Robert Kraig discuss our agenda on the Earl Ingram Show.

Actions to Address the Economic Fallout of COVID-19

The Challenge

Now that the coronavirus is spreading invisibly through the population, the best available containment strategy is drastically curtailing social interactions, putting the economy into what some economists term a “medically induced coma.” This has led to the largest surge in unemployment ever measured, faster than even during the Great Depression!

The only way to prevent economic ruin for millions of average people and small businesses is bold unprecedented government action.

The Barrier

Just as happened during the Wall Street financial meltdown of 2008-2009, business as usual politics is directing a lion’s share of the resources to rescuing big corporations, rather than working and middle class Americans, or small businesses.

The federal government is already injecting more money into the American economy than ever in American history, and there will be many more federal and state relief bills. This is a once in a lifetime moment, and perhaps our only opportunity, to make the structural reforms needed to prevent a climate genocide and to radically reduce economic and racial inequality.

Citizen Action’s Proposals

We are rapidly developing a series of policies which will help average people weather this storm while also building towards an equitable and sustainable economy.

Our first proposal is to waive all utility bills for those out-of-work during Wisconsin’s stay-at-home rule. State regulators have already directed most Wisconsin utilities to “stop utility disconnection for nonpayment for all customers” during the COVID-19 emergency. This is a good start, but deferring payments simply pushes the problem down the road by building up debt hard-pressed homeowners and renters may never be able to repay.

If we have to tighten our belt, we believe giant corporations should have to do so too. Citizen Action would support using state money to pay the utilities back, if they agree to stop dragging their feet on the needed climate transition by making major and accountable investments in conservation and renewable energy that dramatically increases the number of family supporting jobs.

Action Needed

Sign Citizen Actions Petition demanding the state stop utilities from charging Wisconsin’s jobless workers during the crisis!  Once you sign, you will be offered additional action opportunities.

Citizen Action of Wisconsin Holds Virtual Town Hall With Members From All Across the State

Members of the various Citizen Action of Wisconsin Organizing Co-ops from around the State, joined together in a Virtual Town Hall, organized by Co-op Development Director, Kevin Kane. With very little notice, 70 people convened virtually via Zoom conferencing. Citizen Action’s Organizers and members of the management team also joined in the call. The meeting started with an address from Executive Director Robert Kraig, about the political and personal consequences of the Coronavirus, and what our next steps could be as an organization and as individuals.

Kevin Kane then addressed which issues we could still organize around, outside of our ongoing electoral work. The work that we could continue to explore includes the continued work of achieving Healthcare For All, Helping members and allies find ways to make their homes more green, and thereby creating more green (and preferably Union)  jobs, continuing to utilize a race class narrative in our communications and work, and we explored issues that have arisen as a result of the pandemic, such as mortgage relief.

Then, we were able to breakout into smaller groups, and really dig into what matters most to our members. Not surprisingly, Healthcare was at the top of the list of issues, as the pandemic truly illustrates the dire need for Healthcare reform. A close second was continuing to work across the State to help homeowners increase their use of renewable energy, like solar. There is a lot of research that can be done on the front end for folks to upgrade their homes, and this can be done during the pandemic, and acted upon once the stay in place orders are lifted.

One thing is for sure…These times require us to reinvent the way to organize, and this first meeting proves that we are ready and able to continue organizing during these unprecedented times. Stay tuned for future Virtual Town Halls!

“Shamocracy” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

In this week’s episode we dig into the scandalous pandemic primary forced on Wisconsin voters by a conservative establishment that will stop at nothing to win. The panel also talks about the double gut punch Wisconsin progressives felt with the exodus of Bernie Sanders from the presidential contest. We close with a discussion of the next big big battle in Madison, the fight for a meaningful state response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Citizen Action COVID-19 Action Center

Listen Now – Episode #437
Download MP3
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