Senate Committee Begins Health Care Hearings

Last week the first of several public hearings on health care was held in Green Bay. Several hundred people turned out to let the Senate Committee know how much they wanted change. We heard preaching by pastors, were taught by teachers and told many health care stories by patients and their care givers. Nearly every health care worker was represented from podiatrists to hospital administrators.

The hearing began with an overview of five different approaches to solving the health care problem. The Canadian style bill, now introduced as Senate Bill 51, was the most popular among those testifying. Those with direct experience with the Canadian health care system provided first hand knowledge on how the system worked. One comment by a Canadian struck me; “we worried about food and having a job, but never once did our family ever worry about medical bills. This benefit is never seen or measured.” Indeed.

Testimony before the committee included two of my Republican Senate colleagues, Senators Roessler and Darling. They suggested many solutions to problems of cost and quality. Improving medical care by helping hospitals with electronic medical records; and using incentives for “best practices” and “evidence based medicine” were ideas to improve quality.

Senator Darling mentioned that half of all medical costs are for treating illness related to lifestyle and health habits. She encouraged the use of a health assessment, health coaching, more primary care doctors, and low cost preventive care. Both senators supported health savings accounts with high deductible plans.

I was very encouraged to be joined in the effort to solve the health care problem by my Republican colleagues. We have a different perspective and have thought through different aspects of the problem. The solutions we craft will stretch beyond partisan politics. No single party has the corner on good ideas and the best ideas will come from working together. I look forward to this process.

Coming up next week is the health care hearing scheduled for Eau Claire. The hearing will be the 22nd of March at 4 PM at the Chippewa Valley Technical College. The hearing is free and open to the public.

You will find the experience to be informative and stimulating. The hearing will likely last most of the evening. The different plans will be presented first and then all those interested in speaking will be given time to address the committee. If you would like to speak, you will be asked to sign a hearing slip when you arrive. Please join us.

If you have ideas or concerns, please call us. Black River Falls at (715) 284-1730; In Eau Claire at (715) 838-0448 or in Madison at (877) 763-6636 (toll free); or write: State

Capitol; P.O. Box 7882 Madison, WI 53707-7882 or email Sen.Vinehout@legis.wisconsin.gov.