Healthy Wisconsin deserves healthy debate

    Healthy Wisconsin, the proposed plan to transform the delivery of health care in the state into a universal care system is: (A) A wonderful reform plan that efficiently and effectively will ensure universal health care for all of Wisconsin’s residents; or (B) socialized medicine that would levy a new $15.2 billion tax on businesses and consumers and would be a bureaucratic boondoggle.

    Depending upon your political presuppositions and how closely you follow the news, you may have already made up your mind about which of those two options is the reality in your world.

    However, many of us are not inclined to make up our minds on such things ahead of time. We don’t follow talk show radio hosts like sheep, and we don’t take our cues from newspaper editorials. We simply want more information.

    So, allow me to encourage you to attend the next Milwaukee Press Club Newsmaker Luncheon, which will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 12. The forum is titled, "Healthy Wisconsin: Effective Reform or a Burdensome New Tax?"
    The discussion will feature two of the architects of the reform plan, state Sen. Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee) and David Riemer, director of the Wisconsin Health Project, who will discuss their proposal with two of its critics, Rep. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) and Richard Blomquist, president of Blomquist Benefits LLC, who studied the Wisconsin plan for the Independent Business Association of Wisconsin.

    In some states, such as Massachusetts and California, Republican governors such as Mitt Romney and Arnold Schwarzenegger have embraced universal care concepts in health care.

    In Wisconsin, the debate is taking a predictably more partisan tone, with many Democrats in favor of a universal system and many Republicans against it.

    As past president of the Milwaukee Press Club, I will be moderating the Newsmaker Luncheon. I’d rather not call it a debate. I’d rather have it be an unscripted discussion of the merits or lack thereof of the Healthy Wisconsin plan.

    The plan may or may not be right for Wisconsin. But the discussion is worthy for the simple reason that SOME type of reform is needed. The current system is out of control. A recent Small Business Times report noted that more than $1 billion in new health care buildings are currently under construction or being planned in southeastern Wisconsin.

    If you or a loved one has been hospitalized in recent years, you know how jaw-dropping and out-of-whack medical bills have become. The current system is simply not sustainable for businesses, consumers or the government.

    So, let’s throw some paint at the wall and see if something sticks. The public is invited to the Newsmaker Luncheon, which will be held Wednesday, Sept. 12, at the Newsroom Pub, 137 E. Wells St., from noon to 1:30 p.m. The cost to attend is $15 for Milwaukee Press Club members, $20 for non-members and $10 for students. Lunch is included. Because seating is limited, pre-registration and advance payment is strongly recommended and may be made online at For additional information, contact or call (414) 588-9571.

    Steve Jagler is executive editor of Small Business Times.

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