As you may remember, I made a campaign pledge back in 1992 to hold a Listening Session in each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties every year. Over the past 15 years, I’ve held over 1,050 such meetings and traveled the equivalent of almost six times around the world—all within the state of Wisconsin.
A few issues consistently come up at these and other meetings; the unwise war in Iraq, of course, as does our nation’s continuing fight against international terrorism. Earlier this summer, I heard numerous concerns about the USDA’s failure to ensure accurate dairy price reporting, and I am increasingly reminded that our nation must end our dangerous addiction to oil and begin advancing renewable sources of energy to break this addiction.
All of these issues are very important. But the single most common issue that people bring up, the issue that really gets people talking is health care.
Everywhere I go, I hear about the rising cost of health care and the double-digit increases that small business owners must pay every year to continue providing coverage to their employees. I hear about the sacrifices that Wisconsinites are forced to make each year to ensure that they and their family members are covered.
Improving access to health care—and making health care coverage available to all Americans—has been one of my long-time goals. I support an overhaul of our current health care system, and I have recently introduced a new bill with Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) which will move us toward health care for all Americans.
Our bipartisan bill -- the State-Based Reform Health Care Act -- offers an American-style approach to health care reform. Under our plan, the federal government would help states provide health insurance to all their residents, but leave it to those individual states to decide how to go about it.
This legislation starts us down the road of health care coverage for all Americans by giving funding and authority to a select number of pilot states to provide health care coverage for all of their citizens, and encourage a flexible approach that allows each state to come up with innovative ways of achieving universal coverage. Our plan makes fiscal sense—providing $40 billion in funding that would be entirely offset—and would stipulate that all citizens must be covered and that the coverage be at least as good as the health care that members of Congress receive.
It’s time to break the logjam and I’m going to continue my efforts to give everyone affordable, quality health care.
With high hopes,
United States Senator