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Health care hot topic on state campaign trail

Only 13 percent of Wisconsinites in a recent poll cited health care as the top issue in the presidential race. But it's a sizzling topic among those running for the state Legislature.

Last year, the state Senate passed the tax-funded Healthy Wisconsin plan in which employers would pay $15 billion the first year to cover everyone under existing insurance.

Majority Republicans in the Assembly later shot it down. But the issue is sure to return next year, especially if Democrats win control of both houses in next month's elections.

In a recent Wisconsin Public Radio forum, Republican Assembly candidate Jess Kufahl said employers would leave in droves if anything close to Healthy Wisconsin passes, while a huge influx of people would move here to get the goodies.

Kufahl's opponent, Democratic incumbent Donna Seidel of Wausau, said more people are going without care and small businesses plead for help with rising premiums.

It's why Healthy Wisconsin is at the top of Seidel's agenda.

Kufahl says folks should save for their own care and the state should give tax breaks for health savings accounts.

But Seidel says folks can hardly afford the deductibles they now pay, much less save for future care.

Rep Jerry Petrowski, R-Marathon, says universal care in other countries has lots of problems with rationing and waiting lists.

But his Democratic challenger Nate Myszka says partisanship blocks any real reform.

Rep. Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford, says Healthy Wisconsin would cover illegal immigrants and pay for abortions. He says both are wrong.

But Suder's opponent, Owen Mayor Tim Swiggum, says farmers don't even try to go to the doctor, because the first $20,000 is out of their pockets.