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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Health care as a teachable moment

This post was written by Robert Kraig of Citizen Action Wisconsin and has been cross-posted on their website.


Recently Lt. Gov. Candidate Rebecca Kleefisch revealed that she had just undergone successful treatment for colon cancer.  In interviews describing her ordeal, Kleefisch praised the state health insurance plan she has through her husband, who is a state legislator, but took the opportunity of press attention on her illness to bash national health care reform.

In an interview on WISN TV 12 Milwaukee Kleefisch stated that if national health care reform had been in effect "when I went in and had my blood tests done, and I had to wait 6 months to get a colonoscopy or a CT scan, I can't tell you for sure I would be sitting here doing this interview."

We are very glad to hear that Rebecca Kleefisch got the crucial tests she needed to detect her colon cancer early, and receive successful treatment.  We believe it is important for every Wisconsinite to have the same access to life-saving screening and treatment that Rebecca Kleefisch received through the health insurance plan provided to state legislators.  In fact, one should not have to be a state legislator, or married to a state legislator, to receive timely access to high quality health coverage.

We are therefore very concerned that Rebecca Kleefisch used the public attention she has rightly received due to her bout with colon cancer to mislead the public about health care reform.  As a matter of fact, national health care reform will guarantee most Wisconsinites the same access to life saving screenings and treatments that Kleefisch received through state insurance plan provided to legislators.

The new health care reforms that went into effect on September 23rd require that all health insurance plans cover preventive care and screenings without co-pays or deductibles.  This assures that all Wisconsin families with health insurance coverage can get the same screenings and treatments that Rebecca Kleefisch received through the Wisconsin state employee plan.

In addition, because of national health care reform nearly half a million Wisconsinites will have access to private health insurance like state legislators and their families receive.  The Wisconsin state employee plan, which includes state legislators, is very similar to the national health care plan that will be available in 2014.  Under the state employee plan, enrollees choose every year between competing private plans with good benefits.  This is very similar to the state health care exchanges created under national health care reform.  Under national health care reform people will have the opportunity choose from competing private health insurance plans, just like state legislators and other state employees do today.

The truth is that national health care reform will guarantee to most Wisconsinites the same life saving screenings and treatments that Rebecca Kleefisch received.  Kleefisch's own story, rather than discrediting reform, powerfully illustrates its value.  This episode is a "teachable moment" which exemplifies how important the new health care law is for the people of Wisconsin.


This post was written by Robert Kraig of Citizen Action Wisconsin and has been cross-posted on their website.