Feds should monitor insurance, John says
The underdog candidate in the Democratic Party primary race for governor, Tim John is competing against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in the Sept. 14 election. Operating on a shoe-string budget, much of John’s campaign has focused on “creating a vision for Wisconsin,” and in particular, the need for more jobs in Milwaukee’s central city.
But asked specifically for his ideas on health care, John said he has “no problem” with federal regulators taking a stronger role in monitoring health insurance companies and what they charge for coverage.
“I’m supportive of the national plan that was passed, with the understanding that there will be changes made over time – that’s the case with all great legislation,” John said in a phone interview from his Oconomowoc home last week. “And while I’m not an expert in the plan itself, I’m very happy that it passed and now will be brought together with Wisconsin’s BadgerCare plan.”
Access to health care, especially for the poor and working poor, has long been an issue supported by his family, said John, who is the great-grandson of the founder of Miller Brewing Co. After John’s father sold the company in the 1970s, the family donated proceeds to support many health care and hospital charities around the world. Providing access to health care for people who need it has been “integral to my being,” John added.
As the owner of a small printing and publishing company in Milwaukee, John has experienced the challenge of finding affordable insurance coverage for his staff of five or six full-time employees. He described rising health care costs as “a very big and scary issue” for employers. To manage, his firm has gone to a Health Savings Account plan and required employees to pay more of their insurance costs.
John also believes doctors and hospitals should be more transparent in what they charge so that patients will know in advance how much their medical care will cost. Such transparency would make the health care system more competitive, he said.
“We need to find ways to build in more competition among doctors and hospitals,” John said. “When I go to the doctor and ask him what it’s going to cost, he can’t even answer the question because he doesn’t know.”
He connects his belief in preventive health care to his support of a bill that would have legalized the sale of “raw” or unpasteurized milk to Wisconsin consumers. (Citing public health and safety concerns of unpasteurized milk, Gov. Doyle vetoed the bill earlier this year.)
“I am a big fan of working hard to bring farming and our urban culture together,” John said.
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Next week’s “View from the Waiting Room” will look at Republican candidate Mark Neumann’s positions on health care issues.