“I called the hotline several hundred times. Each time I called I got a message about ‘being busy at this time’,” a Pierce county man I’ll call Ken told me.
Ken lost his job as a mechanic and needed to file an unemployment insurance compensation claim. After more than two weeks of trying to get through the state’s Department of Workforce Development (DWD) application process, Ken heard of someone who received help from my office. He called.
Hundreds of complaints from people attempting to apply for unemployment compensation poured into legislative offices this winter. The complaints were consistent: the website dropped me; I got no answer from phone calls; no one ever called me back; I was on hold for hours.
“We waited and the ride never came,” said one disabled man. “I was so cold” another woman said. “They said the heater in the van didn’t work.”
Some time ago residents in Black River Falls shared with me their complaints about non-emergency medical transportation program. Since then, I’ve heard many other complaints from patients and providers.
The number and seriousness of complaints led the Legislature’s Audit Committee - of which I am ranking minority member - to recently approve a full evaluation of the program now administered by St. Louis-based Medical Transportation Management, Inc. (MTM).
"YOU are the reason why we were so successful…” Eric Borgerding of the Wisconsin Hospital Association told the health advocates. "You are extremely effective in communicating with and educating your legislators on local health care issues."
Recently over 800 health advocates traveled to Madison. Some 65 western Wisconsin advocates met with Senator Moulton, staff and I to discuss the challenges facing hospitals. And they shared their passion for caregiving and healing.
Health leaders face new challenges with the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Leaders from Durand, Black River Falls, and Whitehall shared a frustration with the new health law. “There’s not a good model for rural hospitals,” one administrator told me. “We need a rural model where we all work together - schools, nursing homes, the county, Western Dairyland.”
“Your future awaits,” the Student Council President said as he handed students the schedule for Career Day. He then led me to the computer lab where my first class waited.
I spent the morning sharing my life as state Senator with many intelligent, interested young adults. They were as eager to learn about public service as I was to share. Many of them never thought about a career as an elected official.
More than a few left the classroom wondering why any adult would choose not to vote. In part, this was due to the recent local election of one of their teachers – by one vote.