Healthcare Town Hall Held in Stevens Point

By: Liz Holbrook 5/31/19 WSAU

STEVENS POINT, WI -- A town hall was held Friday in Stevens Point to discuss the hot button issue of healthcare.

Governor Tony Evers, Congressman Ron Kind, and State Representative Katrina Shankland talking about healthcare and listened to residents concerns regarding the topic and the potential expansion of Medicaid in the state at the town hall. State Senator Patrick Testin was also invited to the event but did not attend.

Much of the discussion focused on Wisconsin potentially expanding Medicaid in the state with federal money. Governor Evers says expanding Medicaid in Wisconsin is all about letting residents have the same opportunity as other American citizens, who approve of the Affordable Care Act.

"It's clearly something that the people of this country support. And as it relates to the issue of Medicaid expansion, 75 million people in the country are covered by this expansion opportunity. We want to make sure that our state and our people in our state have this same opportunity."

Speaking on Medicaid expansion, Congressman Kind says Wisconsin should be able to figure out how to expand the service with federal money. Because several other states have already laid the groundwork for how to do so.

"Thirty-six states have figured out a way to do it, [and] 16 states led by Republican governors have already done it. It's a nonsensical issue that we're not doing it here in Wisconsin. We're going to continue to make this case. And we're going to need people to weigh in with their representatives to encourage them to do the right thing."

Kind also went on to say that he feels the issue of healthcare shouldn't be a partisan one. "This should be a nonpartisan issue. I think it's in everyone's best interest to be able to expand coverage for all those who have a difficult time getting it. We are taxpayers as well. That money's being sent to Washington. All we're saying is let's bring it back to the state of Wisconsin. Put it to work here so we have a world-class healthcare system."

While many individuals who spoke at the town hall lived outside of Central Wisconsin, Representative Shankland says she's heard about healthcare from plenty of her constituents. She spoke about hearing from constituents during her office hours at a new coffee shop earlier that morning in Point.

"And just getting my coffee people were asking about the budget. They were asking about Medicaid expansion. They wanted it to pass. And several of my constituents who came to my office hours brought up healthcare. The cost of healthcare and connected it to Medicaid expansion understanding that it would help. So I do think it's an issue that we hear about all the time in Portage County."

Both Kind and Shankland recommended residents to reach out to their representatives to talk about healthcare and how it affects their lives. Shankland stressed throughout the town hall that personal stories about healthcare are the things that make a difference when it comes to changing policy.

Medicaid expansion was eliminated from the proposed state budget by the Joint Finance Committee on May 9th. The potential expansion would be expected to save the state $320 million in state funding and cover another 82,000 people.