Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton campaigns for Alison Page here
Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton made a swing through the 10th Wisconsin Senate District on Monday, campaigning with Alison Page, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican Sen. Sheila Harsdorf.
Health care was the top issue on their minds when they stopped by the Star-Observer and Journal newspaper offices.
Lawton chided the state Republicans for, according to her, not addressing health care in the party platform they adopted at their convention last summer.
She said the Republican platform didn't contain a single word about health care or higher education.
"So I'm here to say that the state of Wisconsin is ambitious," she said. "We have big plans. I need partners like Alison to work with if we are going to keep moving forward."
Her concern about the health care system is one of the reasons Page left her job as an administrator for Fairview Health Services last June and became a candidate for the 10th District Senate seat.
She said the state and nation need to shift the philosophy from health care being a privilege of employment to being a human right.
"And that doesn't mean that it is a give-away program, but it means that it is unacceptable to us that people do not have health care coverage," Page said.
She said government also needs to address the fact that 25 cents out of every dollar spent on health care is for "paper shuffling and money handling." And there is too little emphasis on preventative care and promoting healthy lifestyles, she said.
Page was the chief safety officer for Fairview Health Services -- a $2.5 billion, 21,000-employee health care organization -- for seven years before her recent exit from the health care field. She was vice president of operations for Fairview-Red Wing for four years prior to that, and was with the organization a total of 12 years.
Page said the health care cooperatives and health savings accounts that incumbent Sen. Sheila Harsdorf has promoted as a way to expand coverage don't go far enough.
The state's goal, she said, should be universal insurance coverage, whether that is through a multiple- or single-payer system.
"I'm not necessarily opposed to, or for, any one model at this point," she said. "It's getting everybody in a room and getting to a standard set of assumptions about what an end product is going to contain. And then let's figure out how to get there."
Lawton added, "What we don't need is nothing, which is what has been offered to us by our state- and federal-level Republicans."
Page said the other top issues for her are education, support for small businesses and protection of natural resources.
She served on the River Falls School Board from 1985 to 2002 and chaired it for 11 years.
"I know a lot about public education, and I don't see our public education system spiraling upward. I see it plateauing, and maybe falling a little behind," she said. "We need people like me to step up and do it."
Page's husband, David, is a River Falls dentist. The couple has five children ranging in age from 21 to 30.
The oldest, Adam, is a Navy pilot just back from a tour of duty in Iraq. He's now a University of Wisconsin Medical School student.