FOX47 NEWS - Health Care Reform in Wisconsin
Wisconsin legislators were paying close attention to President Obama's call for health care reform.
They are just four days away from a budget deadline, and likely passing some health care improvements of their own.
Legislators say any national health care plan wouldn't interfere with Wisconsin's programs. It will only supplement them.
Senator Judy Robson (D-Beloit) represents a district where nearly 1 in 5 people are unemployed.
We can't keep the status quo. It costs too much, Robson said. We're losing jobs. Business can't afford health insurance. Families are hurting -- one illness can wipe out their savings.
Robson says giving more people access to health insurance, and taking preventative health steps will save the state money at the same time.
Those without insurance end up in the emergency room, which is a terribly expensive place to get health care, said Robson. We all end up paying for it.
Getting a better handle on obesity and diabetes will help lower the cost, said Sen. Jon Erpenbach, chair of the Senate Health committee. Preventative things like mammograms, physicals, that kind of thing.
Wisconsin already has some of the lowest government health care costs in the nation. In Madison, for instance, Medicare spent $6,416 per person in 2006. In Chicago, $9,662. In Miami, Florida, a whopping $16,351 per person.
We pay for unnecessary treatments, and we make doctors act like lawyers and businessmen where they have to do a lot of unnecessary tests and lots of paperwork, Robson said.
Plus, some legislators say, a government health care plan could compete with private insurance companies, driving down costs.
Right now you have individual businesses out there shopping on their own for the best price they can get versus a large company who can negotiate with providers for a better deal, said Erpenbach.
If the state budget is passed, Wisconsin is poised to spend nearly $8 billion on health care next year, a 12.9 percent increase over this year.
There are several new reforms in Wisconsin's budget proposal. They include expanding Badger Care Plus to childless adults, autism coverage, and coverage for prescription birth control.