One of our greatest strengths in Northern Wisconsin is what one friend of mine calls our “stick-to-it-ness” As he says, it takes a special kind of person to face the challenges of living up here, not least of which is the long winters. But we do more than persevere, we succeed by building vibrant communities. This perseverance is one of the strengths we share as Wisconsinites and as Americans.
I was thinking about that as I read and listened to the news accounts about the 75th anniversary of the “D-Day” landings in Normandy France. We can never thank the men and women of the Greatest Generation enough for the sacrifices they made. They didn’t give up when the going got rough, they kept fighting and won. Neither did the suffragists who fought for women’s access to the ballot box. This Monday, June 10th, I will be participating in a celebration in Madison honoring the fact that Wisconsin was the first state to ratify the 19th Amendment.
These are examples of pushing forward against what might appear to be almost impossible odds and overcoming them. They inspire us to do the same today. Many of us have grandfathers who helped overcome the German defenses in Normandy to regain a toehold en route to liberating Europe. Just as many of us have great-grandmothers who advocated for women finally getting the right to vote.
The challenges we are facing today in Wisconsin are not as pressing as a world war, but they do deserve to be faced with a similar perseverance. One of the most prevalent is the lack of access to affordable quality health care.
Unfortunately, my Republican colleagues are refusing to expand Medicaid coverage for people who are currently un-insured or under-insured. Wisconsin is one of a handful of states that has not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. $1.6 billion of the tax dollars we send to Washington are ready and waiting to come home to help provide affordable health care for our neighbors and their families.
One the main reasons they give for not expanding Medicaid is that it will drive up prices on the individual private market. Not true. According to a recent study by the “Health Affairs” journal, when compared to our neighboring states, all who have previously accepted the Federal Medicaid expansion, Wisconsinites are paying 19% more on the private market than our friends in Minnesota, Illinois, or Michigan.
This is a cause that I am going to continue to champion as your State Senator. I know that not all members of the Republican Caucus are opposed. They see the benefits that Medicaid expansion will bring to the state. We can’t afford to wait while a few Republican leaders continue to oppose a policy that 70% of Wisconsinites want. There is still time before this year’s budget is signed into law by the Governor. There is still time to convince the Republicans who control the legislature to do what is best for the people of Wisconsin. I will keep trying and hope that if you feel the same you will too.