All but one of the GOP candidates for the Eau Claire-area’s 69th Assembly District oppose Gov. Tony Evers’ Medicaid expansion plan, despite the recession and a drop in state revenues.
Michael Smith, 61, is a retired plant manager at Mitchell Metal Products and a small business owner.
He jumped into the race after getting fed up with the cost of healthcare: one of his medications was $415 per month, taken out of a $10,000 deductible. Smith told WisPolitics.com the Medicaid expansion money “should have been considered” and accepted depending on the strings the federal government attached to taking it.
“People were struggling with healthcare costs before COVID-19,” he said.
A retired professor of nursing at UW-Eau Claire, Donna Rozar, is against accepting the money for Medicaid expansion on the grounds that it would be expensive for states.
“I certainly am supportive of providing quality accessible healthcare to people who are underinsured or uninsured,” Rozar said. “But I think we have done a good job with BadgerCare, and I believe we can find an alternate way to cover those people.”
Tim Miller, a 27-year law enforcement veteran and current Chief of Police in Marathon County’s Stratford, said that while he needed to do more research on Medicaid, he would not support accepting the money, citing the state’s track record of not having done so in the past.
Miller, 49, added he was skeptical about government-sponsored healthcare.
“If people want healthcare, they should find a job that provides healthcare,” he said. “There are a lot of jobs available.”
Brian Giles, the lone Dem candidate in the race to replace Rep. Bob Kulp, supports accepting the money. Giles, 46, cited bipartisan support for Medicaid expansion and said that a partial expansion of BadgerCare was hurting taxpayers.
“Looking into what we lost by only a partial expansion of BadgerCare, I read that taxpayers lost more than a billion dollars,” he said.
The final Republican candidate, military historian Matthew Windheueser, did not respond to three interview requests by WisPolitics.com. According to his campaign website, this is Windheueser’s second run for the state legislature after an unsuccessful state Senate bid.
Listen to the Giles interview:
–By Caroline Kubzansky for WisPolitics.com