Friday, May 10th
The Fight Has Just Begun For Health Care In Wisconsin
By: Robert Kraig, executive director
Wisconsin’s Republican lawmakers proudly turned their backs on the people of the Badger State when they voted against expanding health coverage to 82,000 people yesterday.
But at Citizen Action of Wisconsin, we’re not turning back. We’ll keep fighting until every Wisconsinite gets the health care we deserve, and voted for in November.
Yesterday’s vote by the Joint Finance Committee to strip Medicaid/Badgercare Expansion from the state budget is just the latest evidence of the Republican Party’s ongoing effort to keep Scott Walker’s shroud pulled tight over the will of the people, who threw him out of the Governor’s Mansion last November.
That’s when they voted in Democrat Tony Evers as our new governor, Citizen Action of Wisconsin member Mandela Barnes as Lieutenant Governor and Josh Kaul as Attorney General, with a mandate to expand health care and turn back Walker’s callous efforts to strip and scrap public programs in our state.
Not willing to accept defeat, Walker rushed to organize a lame-duck session in December to appoint conservative loyalists to key positions across the state, such as the Public Service Commission and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents.
He also sought to tie the hands of Evers and Kaul, to keep them from passing the legislation voters elected them to enact. Medicaid expansion was first offered to Wisconsin under President Obama but movement conservatives have held it up in the State Legislature for years.
The GOP’s efforts to stymie democracy in Wisconsin are shameful, and run against the very grain of democracy. That’s why we stand with the Wisconsin AFL-CIO and the many others who are challenging these efforts to shield the powerful from the will of the people in court.
On Thursday, the Joint Finance Committee hearing room was packed – out of a hundred seats in the room, more than forty were filled by Citizen Action of Wisconsin members, including myself. The clear majority in the room were average citizens who favor Medicaid expansion, with a smattering of lobbyists who were paid to be there.
The Democrats on the committee were on fire, as revved up as I have seen. But because of Wisconsin’s gerrymandered legislature, they are in a 12-4 minority on the committee, despite November’s vote.
The passion is all on our side, and the latest Marquette University Law poll tells us that 70 percent of Wisconsin voters support Medicare expansion. But Wisconsin’s Republicans are curiously uninterested in public opinion, and quite willing just to exercise power in a ruthless way. They literally accused the Governor of being obstructionist for proposing anything he should have known they oppose, like Medicaid expansion
“I have no moral problem,” is what Republican State Senator Tom Tiffany told the Washington Post, when asked if he knew blocking the expansion of health care will harm the poor in Wisconsin.
Republican leaders scheduled this sudden and desperate vote because they are losing the public debate. Days before this rash decision, news reports broke of multiple Republican legislators beginning to bow to public pressure and support the expansion of BadgerCare.
Affordable health care really is a life and death issue.
Just this week, Citizen Action released a blockbuster new study we produced in-house showing how private insurance fails those struggling with opioid addiction, making treatment unaffordable. BadgerCare makes these treatments very affordable, addressing a key need in our state.
We did not lose anything at yesterday’s hearing. This sudden attempt to cut off debate is a sign of weakness. If we keep up the pressure on every legislator who is ignoring the will of the people, we will win.
Until the governor signs his budget, it’s not final. It’s going to be a long debate, and there’s still plenty of time for the public to be heard.
Governor Evers has made clear he will “fight like hell” to win BadgerCare expansion. Do you have the Governor’s back? We do.
Citizen Action members organize for BadgerCare this week!
Since the Republican leadership announced they were going to pull BadgerCare expansion form the JFC state budget last week Citizen Action members have responded.
In just the last week, members have turned out for media conferences, a report release, and the JFC hearing. 125 members in targeted Republican Senate Districts have called their senators office.
Members have sent over 2,100 text messages to other Citizen Action members organizing contact with their state legislators and have submitted 8 Letters to the editor. Citizen Action also partnered with Move On to send nearly 120,000 text messages to voters in targeted legislative districts.
This is in addition to statewide radio ad and digital ads in targeted Senate Districts.
Citizen Action host media conference releasing new report.
New report shows anti-opioid medications much more affordable for those with BadgerCare coverage than marketplace health insurance
At a State Capitol news conference this Wednesday May 8th, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, State Representatives Chris Taylor & Melissa Sargent, State Senator Jeff Smith and healthcare experts and advocates released a new report documenting that expanding Medicaid would substantially reduce financial barriers to accessing critical anti-opioid medications for working Wisconsinites.
The report shows that out-of-pocket costs for anti-opioid medications are often unaffordable on the private health insurance marketplace, costing as much as 72 times more than they do for BadgerCare enrollees. The report provides an additional critical policy consideration for lawmakers to weigh as they deliberate over the Governor’s proposal to accept federal Medicaid dollars to expand BadgerCare.
Event included; State Representative Chris Taylor, member of Joint Finance Committee, State Senator Jeff Smith, State Representative Melissa Sargent, Robert Kraig, Executive Director, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Candice Owley, Citizen Action board member & President, Wisconsin Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals, Jessica Geschke, Program Coordinator, Wisconsin Voices for Recovery; Kevin Kane, Citizen Action of Wisconsin (report author).
Following the Capitol media conference a media phone call was held for all reporters who were unable to attend in person at the Capitol.
Read the entire report.
Watch WisEye video of media conference.
Members of the North Central Organizing Co-op Travel to Madison to stand in solidarity
The Chair of the North Central Organizing Co-op, Don Dunphy and Ruthann Dunphy joined approximately 50 members of Citizen Action, Indivisible and SEIU at the Capitol listening to State Rep Melissa Sargent, State Rep. Greta Neubauer, and State Sen. Jeff Smith before attending the Joint Finance Committee to discourage a vote against Medicaid expansion (and over 100 other things the GOP are taking out of the Governor’s proposed budget)
North Central Organizing Co-op member announces campaign for Mayor of Wausau!
We are very excited that Co-op member, and all around community leader, Katie Rosenberg has announced she is running for Mayor of Wausau.
You can see her campaign announcement here.
Members of the NC Organizing Co-op are very active all throughout the region, and it is no exception in Wausau.
Update on Thomas Street Redevelopment in Wausau
Several members of the North Central Organizing Co-op, along with other community members, created a group called Citizens for a Clean Wausau. The group monitors pollution and the redevelopment of polluted areas. Thomas street is an arterial road very close to the Wisconsin river and has a long history of environmental contamination. On May 6th volunteers with Citizens for a Clean Wausau and members of the Citizen Action North Central Organizing Co-op attended the Wausau City Council Parks & Recreation committee meeting to advocate for environmental testing in Riverside Park. The park is a public gathering space with confirmed WDNR soil dioxin exceedances. Tom Kilian, a member of both organizations, spoke to the committee and urged it to incorporate all relevant contaminants of concern in the testing, from dioxins to heavy metals.
City Councilman Tom Neal of District 4 spoke in support of Kilian’s suggestion to test for a wider scope of substances that may be of concern. The committee unanimously passed a motion to notify WAULECO that the City wished to have the company extend its environmental testing into Riverside Park and to consider testing for the additional substances of concern.
Citizens have spent five years tenaciously pressing for more neighborhood environmental testing. In the past year, citizen research and action has led to multiple new investigations by the City and the DNR, from the examination of historical waste burning to sewer and manhole contamination.
The committee directed the park department head to contact Wauleco, the entity responsible for the cleanup, to propose working together. If Wauleco is required to conduct shallow soil tests in the area downwind from where treated wood was burned by the ton despite DNR orders to cease, the city wants to be able to hire the same firm to conduct equivalent testing within the park. Further, when a local environmental engineering company presents its assessment of conditions in the park, committee members are saying they might ask the full council to fund different soil tests, this time going deeper than what Wauleco will be doing within a few inches of the soil surface.
We discuss Republican leaders’ sudden and desperate Joint Finance Committee vote Thursday that reveals they are losing the public debate on BadgerCare and other important issues in the state budget. We talk about new Citizen Action research demonstrating how expanding Medicaid helps fight the opioid epidemic. We welcome State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski who reveals GOP plans to pull the modest expansion of her office in the state budget. We close with a discussion of the new dynamic in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary following the official entry of Joe Biden.