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OPINION: Wisconsin has a fever, and Healthy Wisconsin is the cure

This summer, the temperature is rising at the State Capitol. Working families are putting the heat on members of the legislature to fix our broken health care system. We have had enough. While the insurance and drug companies continue to make rec...

This summer, the temperature is rising at the State Capitol. Working families are putting the heat on members of the legislature to fix our broken health care system. We have had enough. While the insurance and drug companies continue to make record profits, working families are suffering. We're continually paying more for coverage with increased premiums and deductibles, yet we can't count on receiving care when we really need it.

As a nurse, I see the effects of our health care crisis everyday. It is simply unfair that people who work hard, pay taxes and follow the rules are unable to obtain decent affordable health care. In Wisconsin, we can do better than that, and there is a plan out there that does just that.

"Healthy Wisconsin" is a plan being debated in the legislature right now. It guarantees that regular Wisconsinites will get the same great health benefits that our state legislators have had for years.

There are some groups out there that are opposing Healthy Wisconsin. But take note of where that resistance is coming from. It is not from actual Wisconsin employers, who are tired of losing good employees because they cannot afford to pay adequate insurance. It is not from working families, who are too often forced to choose between food and necessary medication. It is definitely not coming from the self employed, who have given up on finding health care they can afford. The opposition is coming from special interest and insurance company lobbyists with deep pockets who benefit from the current system.

We cannot let them scare us into keeping with the status quo. It is estimated that if we continue on the current path, health care costs will increase $13.8 billion during the next 10 years through ever-rising premiums, co-pays, deductibles and monthly payments. The opponents of Healthy Wisconsin claim that the plan will "choke us to death with taxes." Let's look at the numbers.

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Based on what we are currently paying, Healthy Wisconsin's payroll assessment will save middle income families an average of $750 in a year. The employer assessment, will average to $370 per month for each worker which will save the typical Wisconsin employer 15 percent of what they are currently paying. Small businesses will likely save the most given the high prices most are forced to pay for coverage.

Healthy Wisconsin is unique to our state and takes into account our top-notch medical facilities. It keeps what is good in the current system such as consumer choice in a primary care provider and restores control of medical decisions between doctors and their patients rather than insurance companies. Healthy Wisconsin guarantees quality affordable care to every Wisconsinite without government interfering with our health care. People can continue the relationships they have built with family doctors and other medical providers.

Healthier families and a healthy next generation is a smart investment in Wisconsin's future. Call your state legislator and let them know you are a health care voter.

About the author

Dian Palmer is President of SEIU Wisconsin State Council and SEIU Healthcare 1199 Wisconsin. SEIU Healthcare is the nation's largest healthcare union with more than 1 million members.

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