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Wisconsin Healthcare Guarantee (2008)

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A Wisconsin Health Care Guarantee ballot proposition was on the local ballot in several Wisconsin communities in 2008.

Citizen of Action of Wisconsin was successful in earning a ballot line for the proposal in 22 counties and municipalities statewide. The referendum was non-binding and advisory only.

Text of Measure

Shall the next state legislature enact health care reform legislation by Dec. 31, 2009, that guarantees every Wisconsin resident affordable health care coverage as good as what is provided to state legislators?[1]



Results by community:

Community Yes No Result
Appleton 23,172 8,544 Approved
Altoona 2,146 831 Approved
Barron County 14,713 4,457 Approved
Black River Falls 1,104 299 Approved
Dane County 176,770 63,765 Approved
Douglas County 16,967 3,891 Approved
Eau Claire 25,536 9,025 Approved
Hudson 4,851 1,769 Approved
Green Bay 28,464 10,354 Approved
La Crosse County 37,293 12,196 Approved
Menasha 5,094 1,879 Approved
Menomonie 5,806 1,486 Approved
Mondovi 729 236 Approved
New Richmond 2,923 779 Approved
Oak Creek 10,300 5,345 Approved
Oshkosh 21,936 6,087 Approved
Polk County 14,232 7,179 Approved
River Falls 1,007 279 Approved
South Milwaukee 7,235 2,872 Approved
Tomah 2,732 577 Approved
Viroqua 1,592 463 Approved
Washburn County 6,859 1,852 Approved


Citizen Action of Wisconsin are the main supporters of the referendum. Robert Kraig, Communications Director for Citizen Action for Wisconsin cited the need for the referenda on this basis: "Premiums for health insurance have doubled since 2000, and there's no end in sight." "There's a lot of frustration out there that the state Legislature has not gotten its act together."[3]

Kraig claimed the organization's membership of 90,000 as evidence of the high level of concern and as a supporting point the referendum would be successful. Kraig also said during an interview with WTMJ-TV 4 of Milwaukee: "It has to be health care that's as good as legislators receive. It has to be affordable and available to everyone, and has to be done by the end of 2009."[4]

Citizens Action also tried to get this question on the November 2006 ballot. Kraig has said that this was a huge part of helping the Democratic controlled State Senate getting the Healthy Wisconsin Plan pushed through the legislature in 2007. Healthy Wisconsin was put on during the 2007 battle over the State Budget in Wisconsin that resulted in the budget being 100 plus days overdue with the measure passing the Senate but being killed in the Republican controlled assembly.


No official campaign towards its opposition has been organized.

The Wisconsin State Journal editorial board is opposed to the measure.[5]

There has been criticism by academic and health care experts over this referendum. "In polls, 70 percent — maybe more — of Americans will say, 'Yes we want universal health care. Let's just tap into that ground-swell of support for an abstract idea.' It's not concrete. The devil is in the details of legislation. How much is it going to cost? Who's covered for what?" said David Siemers, a University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh political science professor during an August 2008 interview with the Appleton Post Crescent.[6]

This measure along with the Healthy Wisconsin plan has received a lot of bad rap from legislators. Rep. Steve Wieckert (R-Appleton) said in an interview: "A lot of times these groups might not come up with what I consider the right answer," said Wieckert, "but they do address a legitimate and right problem, and that's a contribution in itself." "The Legislature needs to dedicate more attention to the issue," Wieckert also stated, "but legislators need to think of health care as being more than illness care. It means looking at it through the lens of wellness and preventive programs." "That's the only (way) we can start in a long-term structural way to reduce health care costs," Wieckert stated.[7]

Darlene Weis, a Marquette University health care policy expert, says part of the problem is that lawmakers don't always understand the issues surrounding health care. "They all have their areas of expertise and interests, and the rest is mostly what their friends and colleagues (persuade) them to vote for or who they all vote to," she said. As health care gets tossed around like a hot political potato, dialogues are reduced to "all-or-nothing" proposals, Siemers said. "In a way, this is the Democrats' abortion issue. Republicans beat up on Democrats for 20 years about abortion because they could take a position that appeals to a lot of people without having any consequences to that position," he said. Now Democrats "can trumpet their moral superiority for wanting health care for everyone and they don't really have to do anything."[8]

External links

See also


  1. Push on for advisory referendum on health care, Appleton Post Crescent, August 7, 2008
  2. Citizen Action Healthcare Referendums Report
  3. Push on for advisory referendum on health care, Appleton Post Crescent, August 7, 2008
  4. Citizen Action Wants Guaranteed Healthcare, TMJ4, August 12, 2008
  5. Reject health care referendum, Wisconsin State Journal, October 2, 2008
  6. Push on for advisory referendum on health care, Appleton Post Crescent, August 7, 2008
  7. Push on for advisory referendum on health care, Appleton Post Crescent, August 7, 2008
  8. Push on for advisory referendum on health care, Appleton Post Crescent, August 7, 2008

Additional reading