Thompson Comments On Federal Health Programs

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Tommy Thompson
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Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson says lawmakers shouldn’t pit senior citizens’ wellness against children’s health. The governor and former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services joins us to discuss Medicare, SCHIP, and redistricting, among other topics.

The Republican and Democrat Howard Dean co-authored an opinion piece that Congress could jeopardize health care for aging Americans. They argue Medicare’s Extra Help program for prescription drug costs is only now becoming a partisan issue. Thompson and Dean say increasing the cost of medicine hurts the nation’s most vulnerable.

Meanwhile the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) has expired. Congress did not renew the CHIP program by the September 30 deadline. A mix of federal and state dollars covers the cost of routine care for children in poverty. It’s called BadgerCare Plus in Wisconsin. Under Governor Thompson’s leadership, by 2000 nearly 95 percent of Wisconsin children in low-income households were enrolled in BadgerCare coverage. Now states are left with only local funding for programs, and that can’t sustain the programs.

Thompson tackles other topics in our conversation, including the Affordable Care Act as it remains and Wisconsin’s redistricting case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Featured in this Show

  • Tommy Thompson: Health Care Will Fail If It’s A Partisan Effort

    Congress let funding expire over the weekend for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, a program that helps millions of low- and moderate-income families afford health insurance.

    The funding lapse is in part because of Congress’ focus on repealing the Affordable Care Act, meaning other legislative priorities — like funding CHIP — were pushed aside.

    Wisconsin’s former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson says health care has unnecessarily become a partisan issue.

    “It is too complex, too huge, to have just one political party develop a health care policy. You need both political parties with their best ideas. From the day it (the ACA) passed, people were opposed to it because it was not bipartisan. And the same thing is gonna happen if the Republicans pass their bill without any Democrat(ic) input,” Thompson said Tuesday on WPR’s “The Morning Show.”

    Gutting the ACA isn’t what Congress should be focusing on. Instead, they need to fix former President Obama’s health care law, said Thompson, who served as governor from 1987 to 2001 and as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services from 2001 to 2003 under former President George W. Bush.

    “Obamacare’s not working. (But) if Obamacare fails, we have nothing,” Thompson said. “What they should do is sit down and modernize the program and make it work.”

    If Congress does manage to come together and pass a reformed version of Obamacare, they shouldn’t touch CHIP, Thompson said.

    CHIP insures 9 million children in the U.S. In Wisconsin it’s called BadgerCare Plus. When Thompson was governor, nearly 95 percent of children in low-income households received coverage through BadgerCare Plus by 2000.

    “On certain issues, you gotta have a partisan spin, because that’s why you got elected. But on healthcare — there’s Democrat(ic) disease, no Republican disease, no Democrat(ic) health care proposal that’s better than a Republican (one). But together we can really make the system work,” Thompson said.

Episode Credits

  • Kate Archer Kent Host
  • Kealey Bultena Producer
  • Tommy Thompson Guest