Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,
I hope everyone had a safe and
enjoyable Memorial Day weekend and took some time to remember and honor
those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. It was great to
see many of you in Oak Creek and South Milwaukee on Monday.
A lot happening right now at the federal level. One topic that has a
lot of our neighbors on edge is the attack on our health care. Trump
and federal Republicans, such as the Speaker of the House and
Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, have come up with a scheme that
threatens all of the positive gains made to our health care system.
Their actions could not only result in premium costs ballooning, but also
forces us back to when insurance companies could pick and choose who
they want to cover based solely on profitability.
I know this is an issue that is personal for many of you. From the
rural farmer who depends on BadgerCare to the small business owner
who depends on the Marketplace Insurance for access to affordable
health care through the
Therefore, this edition of the
Larson Report will focus on what's happening at the federal level
and what Wisconsin Democrats are doing to push back.
Additionally, we have a breaking update about Trump pulling America off
the world stage by withdrawing us from the Paris Agreement. It is up to
state, businesses, and individuals to lead for now and you can read more
on this below.
State Senator, District 7
Changes Looming at Federal Level
believe each and every one
of us deserves the security of having access to basic health care,
especially when we need it most. Despite the positive gains we've
made in access to affordable coverage, all of this is now critically
at risk by Trump and Congressional Republicans. In early May, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill being pushed
by Speaker Paul Ryan that would be devastating to Wisconsin
The benefits of having a fair and even playing field between
insurers and consumers are not tied to party affiliation. According
to a recent
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
article, those who would be most negatively affected by the federal
Republican scheme reside in counties that backed Trump in the
The reckless Republican proposal would lead to many of our neighbors
losing access to affordable coverage and health care security, and
would repeal many critical safeguards currently in place under the
ACA. Let's break down some of the critical changes:
Under the ACA, health care
plans must cover minimum, basic services, such as hospital
visits, mental health care, maternity care, and preventive care.
These basic services are known as "essential health benefits"
because they are considered to be the bare minimum, essential
coverage necessities. This is a critical component of our new
health care system, as it creates a more consumer-minded system
with a uniform coverage floor.
The Republican plan would allow
states to make changes and reductions to this coverage floor.
This would permit insurance companies to offer skimpier
plans that do not cover many of the critical services each of us
Having a pre-existing
condition should not bar anyone from obtaining affordable
coverage. Under the ACA, families who once faced the prospect of
no coverage and financial ruin due to a pre-existing condition are no longer denied
access to insurance.
Republican Scheme: A
shockingly immoral provision in the Republican plan is the allowance
for states to opt out of vital ACA safeguards, letting them jack-up
premium costs for our neighbors with pre-existing conditions. This would harm too many Wisconsin kids and families;
we cannot go back to a time where you can be discriminated
against just because you have a pre-existing condition.
Current Law: Under the ACA, individuals up
to 400% (about $48,000 annual income for a single person) of the
federal poverty line qualify for premium assistance and help
with co-pays and deductibles. This flexible credit also adjusts
based on geographic location, since the cost of health care can
vary widely from one area to the next.
Under the Republican plan,
people who are older, lower-income, or live in high-premium
areas would receive less assistance making their health care
costs more of a burden. Instead of assistance being based on income
level, it would instead be based on age.
Click here to see an interactive map, on how premium rates could
Coverage: Lifetime and Annual Limits
Our neighbors should not be forced into financial ruin because
they got sick, or have to choose between paying their rent and
going to the doctor. The ACA put a ban on lifetime and annual
caps on coverage, ensuring you and I and our loved ones don't
fall into crippling debt due to an illness.
The Republican health care
scheme would allow states to apply for a waiver to institute annual and lifetime limits in coverage. This will have obviously
consequences for a serious illness like cancer, but will also
greatly hurt children managing a chronic illness. Take a child
with asthma for instance. This common illness requires daily
medication, routine check-ups, and potentially trips to a
hospital should an attack occur. Forcing these families to
ration their child's care so they don't use up their limited coverage is dangerous and morally wrong.
The state-federal Medicaid
program helps cover one-in-five of our neighbors at any given moment.
While current federal law provides most of the funds needed to
cover more people, Walker and Wisconsin Republicans denied
families in our state this opportunity. This is projected to cost us $678.6 million by the end of the
Republican Scheme: Under the Republican proposal,
Medicaid -- known as BadgerCare in Wisconsin, would be shifted
to have per capita caps or block grant funding. In general
terms, this means states would be given lumps of funds with little oversight
on how it is used. It will undoubtedly mean fewer
people would have access to Medicaid and fewer services would be
The ACA is popular in our state
because of the positive benefits it has had on our neighbors' lives.
220,000 of our friends and family members were able to access
affordable health care coverage through the ACA. From 2013-2015,
because of the Marketplace plans offered through the ACA, as well as
increased access to employer-sponsored insurance, 195,000 less
people were uninsured. According to the Wisconsin Council on
Children and Families (WCCF),
in Milwaukee County, the rate of uninsured kids when from 4.2% in
2013 to 3.1% in 2015. Uninsured adults decreased as well, from 17.5% in
2013 to 10.7% in 2015. Roughly 4% of our neighbors in Milwaukee County
received coverage through the Marketplace, 83% of those families receive
a tax credit to help pay for their premium. Check out the numbers for
other Wisconsin counties,
click here to read a WCCF blog post.
According to a new
Marquette Law School Poll, a majority of Wisconsin voters want
our federal elected officials to keep the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Further, in November 2014, voters in 19 counties across the state
asked Governor Walker and the Republican Legislature to accept
available federal funds to strengthen our BadgerCare program.
Democrats Take Proactive
Steps to Protect our Neighbors
While Wisconsin has historically taken care of our neighbors by
striving to ensure health care coverage, we've seen this legacy
crumble under Walker and the Republican majority. Therefore, it
didn't come as a surprise to most of us when
Walker said he was open to the idea of dropping protections for
our loved ones with pre-existing conditions. Governor Walker stance
on health care is wrong for Wisconsin and wrong for each of us who
depend on having access to insurance coverage, despite previous
That's why I have signed on to
proactively protect the vital safeguards our neighbors critically
need. The legislation included in this Health Care Protection
Senate Bill 265: Prohibits insurance companies from charging neighbors
with preexisting conditions higher rates or excluding them from
Senate Bill 266: Prohibits lifetime and annual limits under health
insurance policies and plans
Senate Bill 267: Requires insurance plans
to cover vital preventive services at no cost to the patient
Senate Bill 268: Ensures your health care plan covers certain essential
health benefits as outlined by the ACA
Senate Bill 269:
Maintains access to reimbursements to family planning providers
According to a recently released
report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, 23 million
Americans would lose their health coverage under the Republican plan.
Additionally, one estimate shows that over 300,000 of our
Wisconsin neighbors are at risk of losing their health care coverage should
the federal Republican scheme be jammed through. I am proud to
stand with my Democratic colleagues in order to proactively safeguard
some of the most critical protections.
What are the Next Steps for the
As stated, the federal plot to repeal the ACA has been approved by
the House, and is now headed to the Senate. Our neighbors have been
vocal about their opposition to this plan to strip our neighbors' access
from health care. As a result, Senate Republicans have formed a right
wing group to meet behind closed doors and come up with their own
version of an ACA repeal bill. The Senate needs 50 of the 52 Republican
Senators to sign off on the secret scheme, which is expected to be
finalized in the coming months.
To be clear, even if U.S. Senate Republicans come up with a proposal
that is different than the House health care bill, their end goal
remains the same: to get rid of the ACA, which would be devastating
to Wisconsin families and communities.
With Wisconsin U.S. Senator Ron
Johnson being one of the hand-selected members of the secret working
group, and Governor
Walker's blurry comments about whether or not he will allow for
unfair insurance practices, like allowing us to be kicked off of our
plan if we have a pre-existing condition, it is crucial
Wisconsinites act now. We must guarantee to our neighbors that we
will do everything we can to ensure they continue to have access to
coverage. See how you can help in the Take Action section below.
Walker's flip-flopping on
whether or not he supports ensuring people with preexisting
conditions maintain access to coverage makes it clear that nothing
is off the table and no one is safe.
We simply cannot trust him to do the right thing. In fact, Walker is
currently pushing for a federal waiver to make changes to our
According to an analysis by the Wisconsin Council on Children and
Families, the sweeping changes the governor is proposing would
result in an increase in the number of uninsured Wisconsinites,
costing us all more long-term. It would also put a time limit on
coverage, denying critical health care to those who need it most,
among other changes.
Read more about this, here.
Call Governor Walker
today at (608) 266-1212 and tell him: We must make sure
that families who are struggling to make ends meet have access
to affordable health care coverage, regardless of their income
level or whether or not they have history of illness. Withdraw
the federal waiver request in order to ensure a healthier, more
Call Senator Ron Johnson
at (202) 224-5323 and Senator Tammy Baldwin at (202) 224-9787 to
Access to affordable health care is a right. We cannot go
back to a system that puts profit-motivated insurance companies
in charge of who gets care. Keep the Affordable Care Act!
Please also note, there will also
be a community listening session hosted by several Wisconsin Democrats
on Monday, June 5th in Kenosha. See the community events section below
for further details.
Trump Pulls America
off World Stage
President Trump broke our promise to
the world that we would stand with the international community in
supporting the Paris Agreement.
Trump is sending a dark signal to the world; his bizarre behavior shows
that he is more concerned with doling out favors for polluters rather
than protecting the health and prosperity of our nation and planet.
This is the time when we should be working together with the
international community to take decisive, bold action to combat the
negative effects of climate change before it is too late. Instead, his
betrayal of science and harsh rejection of worldwide efforts to
safeguard our health and environment dangerously jeopardizes American
interests and further isolate us.
Although Trump and his polluter allies are climate change deniers, the
overwhelming majority of our neighbors understand the simple truth that
climate change is real and is happening, that humans are contributing to
it, and that no matter how fervently they delude themselves we are
already witnessing its effects.
It is time to take a stand and let Trump and the world know that
Americans understand the growing crisis of climate change and that we
strongly oppose President Trump's immoral betrayal of our conservation
Read more about this, here.
In Case You Missed
week, the Larson Report strives to provide up-to-date, in-depth
information to its readers. Between editions, a lot happens in Madison
and our Wisconsin communities. I want to make sure you know the most
pressing issues facing our neighborhoods across the state. Below are
some of the top stories from the past couple of weeks:
- Our Schools are the
Center of our Neighborhood
On May 4, Rep.
Christine Sinicki and I, along with some of our Democratic
colleagues, unveiled the Community Schools Act.
Every child in Wisconsin deserves a fair shot and an equal
opportunity to receive a quality education. That's why it's
unacceptable that our public schools have faced catastrophic
cuts, while taxpayer dollars flow to unaccountable private
voucher schools. The Community Schools Act helps reverse this
trend and guarantees that our students have the support they
need to succeed, both in and out of the classroom.
The Community Schools Act provides start-up funding for
community schools, which offer students and families a variety
of critical programs and resources on top of a traditional
curriculum. These services include physical and mental health
care, after-school care, academic mentoring, and family support.
The goal of these programs is to promote student learning,
strengthen families, and create healthier communities. The
community school model depends on collaboration with partner
organizations to achieve these goals.
The Community Schools Act also includes provisions to ensure
that both rural and urban school districts in Wisconsin can
benefit from the host of opportunities the community school
Click here to
see a video of the press conference.
- Disturbing Financial Ties
Between Walker and Ultra-Conservative Bradley Foundation Revealed
A recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Special Report has
exposed the dark and disturbing financial ties between Governor
Walker and the ultra-conservative Bradley Foundation. If you had any
doubt remaining that under Governor Walker and his Republican
Legislative allies our government is being sold off to special
interests, this report will erase that doubt and will confirm your
Although the Bradley Foundation hides behind nonpartisan tax status,
their reach into Republican politics and their heavy hand in guiding
conservative policy is undeniable.
The leaked documents cited in the report confirm that the Bradley
Foundation is funneling money to fuel an ultra-conservative,
Trump-like agenda darkly designed to destroy the support systems our
communities have set up to help us and our neighbors in our times of
If you want to know why you have an anxious feeling about the
backward direction of our state and have not been able to understand
why Walker and other Republicans have betrayed our values,
you need to read this report.
- Trump Administration
with Student Loan Debt
I recently joined with my fellow Democrats in the Senate and
Assembly in sending a letter to Wisconsin Attorney General Brad
Schimel asking him to join 21 other states in opposing Trump's
Education Secretary's plan to eliminate student loan protections
that were enacted under President Obama.
These crucial protections were put in place after student loan
holders reported widespread problems and "systemic mistreatment"
of borrowers by student loan servicing corporations, such as
delays in payments being processed and being charged unexpected
With over 1 million of our Wisconsin neighbors repaying their
students loans, it's past time GOP legislators join Democrats in
protecting our neighbors from predatory practices by corporate
Click here to
view the letter.
In a similar action of betrayal,
Wisconsin Republican's turned their backs on the nearly one million
Wisconsin residents who are being crippled by students loan debt by
voting against a student refinancing motion proposed by Democrats on
the state's budget writing committee.
Read more about this, here.
- Wisconsin Last in New
For the third year in a row,
Wisconsin is dead last in the nation for new business startup
It is clear the policies of Governor Walker and legislative
Republicans are not working. We must refocus on creating an
environment that will attract investors, such as having a nationally
recognized University System, strong community schools, tax
incentives targeted to foster innovation and attract entrepreneurs,
not just blanket giveaways to large corporations.
Read more about this, here.
- Suppressing Access to
300,000 of our neighbors who were eligible to vote leading up to
the presidential election lacked a photo ID that satisfied the
strict requirements set by Wisconsin Republican's under their
voter suppression law.
While it is unknown just how many of those Wisconsinites were
able to obtain a valid ID before Election Day, as the article
below points out, "it is not hard to find the Navy veteran whose
out-of-state driver's license did not suffice, or the dying
woman whose license had expired, or the recent graduate whose
student ID was deficient — or [Gladys] Harris, who at 66 made
her way to her polling place despite chronic lung disease and a
torn ligament in her knee." Having lost her driver's license and
despite supplemental identification, her attempt to vote was
Now, Trump has threatened to attack our democracy and citizen
engagement just like the Wisconsin GOP in 2011.
Late last week, Donald Trump signed an executive order forming a
commission that will look at voting and elections, which will be
headed by a known advocate for strict voter ID laws. Just like
in Wisconsin, there is no evidence that widespread voter fraud
is happening nationwide -- it is nothing more than a smoke and
mirrors scheme to enact policies that will disenfranchise our
neighbors and make it harder for them to cast their ballot.
I encourage you to read this
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article to hear the stories of several Wisconsinites as they
faced barriers to accessing their constitutional right to vote.
- "Thank You" to our Teachers
May 9 was National
Teacher Appreciation Day, a day in which we honor and celebrate our
neighbors who have dedicated their lives and careers to educating
and inspiring our nation's future.
As a father and Milwaukee
Public Schools parent, I give great personal thanks and appreciation
to the millions of patient, caring, and selfless individuals to whom
we entrust so much.
It's been no secret that here in Wisconsin,
quality public education has been a casualty of the GOP assault on
knowledge. Historic K-12 budget cuts and labor attacks, orchestrated
by Governor Walker, have left Wisconsin schools desperate for
teaching staff and lacking the resources needed to adequately teach
our children. Our kids deserve better.
Despite being devalued
and dehumanized by Wisconsin GOP members, our public school teachers
continue to push forward to educate and be advocates for our
children. Their energy and resolve, in a political climate that is
against learning, is a true testament to their love of being
educators. I am proud to stand beside them.
- National Bike School Day!
This year, I am excited to be again working with 4th and 5th graders
from Cooper Elementary School in Milwaukee to designate biking as
our official state exercise.
Recognized as a national leader
in bicycling, Wisconsin's road system and off-road terrain make it
the perfect place to seek out amazing biking adventures. Our state
is home to some of the most scenic biking trails in the Midwest,
Wisconsin offers touring trails that make it safe, easy, and fun to
get out and enjoy the outdoors while participating in an exercise
that has innumerable health benefits. Cycling builds stamina,
increases muscle tone, improves heart health, and decreases stress.
In addition to health benefits, biking has a significant
economic impact on our state. As a national leader in the biking
industry, Wisconsin is home to some of the largest bike-related
manufacturing in the country. Through tourism, manufacturing, and
related health benefits, Wisconsin sees an annual boost of $1.5
billion from the sport.
I am extremely proud of the students
at Cooper Elementary School for their hard work on this bill and
have no doubts that they will continue being strong advocates for
for opportunities to explore Wisconsin's unique bike trails.
- GOP Backpedals on
Last week, GOP lawmakers hastily backpedaled on privacy
protection. When faced with even the possibility of discussion,
let alone adoption of important internet privacy protections,
Senate Republicans chose to delay Assembly Bill 123, a bill that
would start to allow more investment in broadband expansion in
Actions by Trump and other federal Republicans have created a
dangerous privacy gap, ripping open the door to your personal
information being auctioned off without your consent or
knowledge. Wisconsinites have an inherent right to privacy, and
it is critical that our state fights back against national
efforts to make our personal information, habits, and
preferences a profit commodity for internet providers.
Despite their rhetoric, it seems like Assembly and Senate
Republicans will come up with any excuse to delay and deny
broadband expansion to families and communities across
View a previous Larson Report newsletter on this topic, here.
Indications are that GOP may stuff Assembly Bill 123 provisions into
the budget to avoid privacy protections.
Events in our
neighbors and being involved in our community is of the utmost
importance. Some community events that might be of interest to you and
your family are listed below.
Hot Summer Milwaukee -- Find fun
summer learning for your kids!
Looking for some fun and educational programs for your child this
summer? Hot Summer Milwaukee is a collaborative, community-wide effort
to expand and promote fun summer learning opportunities for kids in the
Milwaukee area. Through
HotSummerMKE.com, families can be connected with summer schools,
community programs, and fun events in their neighborhood that will keep
your child engaged throughout the summer months. Sign up for classes or
enroll your child in camp… all in one place!
CLICK HERE for more information.
Milwaukee VA Medical Center 150th
Saturday, June 3 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Celebrate with the Milwaukee VAMC as they put on re-enactments, musical
entertainment, tours of the grounds and select buildings, adaptive
sports demonstrations and a look at their history of care over 15
CLICK HERE for more information.
6th Annual Spring on Brady Art Walk
Saturday, June 3 from Noon to 4 p.m.
Come on down to Brady Street to celebrate Spring as we bring
you our 6th Annual Art Walk. Also, shop amazing sidewalk sales along
with spectacular dining and drink deals as we celebrate Springtime!
Over 30 merchants will be hosting live artists from painting and
sketching, chalk drawing, pottery, puppy printing and even
CLICK HERE for more information.
Chill on the Hill
Tuesdays, June through August from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Bay View is home to Humboldt Park, which features a beautiful band shell
especially designed for acoustic excellence. Bay View neighbors gather
on the vast hillside above the band shell to enjoy music performed by
local musicians. Bay View Neighborhood Association puts on Chill on the
Hill in partnership with the Milwaukee County Parks. Bring your own food
and drink or patronize one of the many excellent food vendors that set
up at Chill each week.
For more information, including parking info, CLICK HERE.
Health Care Listening Session -- Kenosha
Monday, June 5 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at
UAW Local 72 Hall, located at 3615 Washington Road in Kenosha.
Members of the Wisconsin Legislature will hold a listening session
regarding present attacks on Wisconsinites' health care.With attacks on
health care being waged on multiple fronts, Wisconsin residents from all
walks of life are experiencing unprecedented fear and uncertainty about
whether they will have access to or be able to afford quality healthcare
in the months and years ahead. This is particularly so for Wisconsin
women for a variety of reasons. With the pending federal legislation and
budget concerns in Washington and Madison, this is a particularly timely
forum which will allow us to hear from Wisconsin residents about their
healthcare experiences, concerns, and fears.
Several federal elected officials will be invited to join the listening
session to hear from Wisconsinites about how they would be required to
pay more money but get less health care under proposals like the AHCA
and the state and federal budgets. Come share your stories and concerns.
for more information.
Wisconsin State Capitol
P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707
(608) 266 7505
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