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Group rallies against Walker health care plan

Robert Kraig, executive director of Members of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, was in Hudson this week protesting the health care plan proposed by Gov. Scott Walker. (Photo by Mike Longaecker)

Opponents of a national health care plan unveiled last month by Gov. Scott Walker took their message to Hudson last week.

From the balcony of the Hudson Library, Members of Citizen Action of Wisconsin said the backdrop of the St. Croix River represented a line of demarcation between a progressive health care system in Minnesota and one proposed by the Wisconsin governor who’s seeking to become president.

Robert Kraig, executive director of Members of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, said Minnesota has lower premiums because it has taken advantage of provisions in the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“And Wisconsin does not,” he said.

Kraig said those issues would be compounded if Walker’s proposed health care plan took effect.

The governor last month rolled out his plan to repeal the ACA and replace it with a new health care program, which includes flat tax credits that would replace wealth-based subsidies for health plans provided through the current system.

The Citizen Action group contends that Walker’s proposal would hit low- and moderate-income residents in the pocketbook.

“Especially in a community like Hudson,” Kraig said, citing high health-care costs in the St. Croix County area.

According to data released by the group, the annual health-care cost for a 60-year-old Hudson resident earning 200 percent of the poverty line under the ACA is $1,380.

Walker’s proposal would drive up that person’s annual health care costs to $6,552, according to the group.

“She can’t afford it,” Kraig said of the theoretical person in the example. “That’s the consequence of this kind of system.”

A 40-year-old earning 133 percent of the poverty line in Hudson would see annual health care costs rise by nearly $2,000 under the Walker plan, according to the Citizen Action group.

The Walker camp claims just the opposite, saying his plan “makes health insurance affordable for everyone,” according to a statement from campaign spokeswoman AshLee Strong.

“Gov. Walker’s Day One Patient Freedom Plan is a big, bold conservative solution that replaces ObamaCare’s government-centric approach with a market-driven system that works for all Americans,” said Strong, who serves as national press secretary for the Walker campaign. “It puts patients back in control, empowers states, cuts regulations, and encourages innovation.”

Opposing the Walker plan was Dan Guenthner, an organic vegetable farmer from the town of Farmington in Polk County.

He said the ACA has been “a tremendous benefit to our family” after choosing to go for years without health care.

“It was simply beyond our ability to pay,” he said.

Guenthner said his family eventually bought a major medical plan with an $11,000 deductible. Setting aside cash to cover that cost “sort of handcuffed us” and inhibited business decisions to purchase new farm equipment and more land, he said.

But he said a plan he’s since enrolled in through the ACA has provided peace of mind through controlled costs. That would go away if Walker’s plan was adopted, he said.

“It’s not perfect,” he said of the ACA, “but it’s working.”

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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