Tiffany, Church propose limited government healthcare solutions; Zunker touts public optionSubmitted: 02/06/2020
Dan Hagen
Dan Hagen

Tiffany, Church propose limited government healthcare solutions; Zunker touts public option
WAUSAU - On Feb. 18, thousands of Northern Wisconsinites will cast their ballots in the Special Election Primary. Thursday, Republicans Jason Church and State Senator Tom Tiffany debated on Wisconsin Public Radio.

Topics ranged from the national debt to immigration reform. On healthcare, both Church and Tiffany discussed limited government solutions. Church said his frustrating experience with the VA makes him skeptical of single-payer health insurance.

"The thought of this system being extrapolated on the entire country is frightening because at the end of the day the problem is you have providers that are not accountable to a patient, but accountable to a bureaucrat in Washington," said Church. "The solutions lie in more price transparency."

Church said allowing patients to be more informed on the healthcare costs will lead to higher quality care and better prices.

Tiffany shared Church's beliefs on the lack of merits to Medicare-for-all. The state senator said he would work to make healthcare more localized.

"This cookie cutter approach from the federal level will not work," said Tiffany. "That's why we need to allow more local options, allow direct primary care, take some of the regulations away from associated health plans so perhaps the local Chambers of Commerce can pool businesses together."

Both spoke about expanding telehealth to the benefit of rural areas.

Democratic candidate Tricia Zunker spoke to students at Horace Mann Middle School in Wausau Thursday. She addressed leadership, and the importance of community involvement.

On the topic of healthcare, Zunker told Newswatch 12 that healthcare should be a right and limited government solutions will not be enough to make that happen.

She supports a public health insurance option.

"Because not everyone has access to private insurance," said Zunker. "And people get sick. That is a reality. No one should die because they can't get to a doctor. No one should go bankrupt because of a medical emergency. We need to have a public option for those that want it and those that need it."

Under the public option plan, government-run health insurance would still compete with private insurance. Zunker's primary opponent Lawrence Dale favors a medicare-for-all plan.

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RHINELANDER - The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic forced schools and colleges around the world to shut their doors.

It's been hard for most students. But seniors are especially concerned 

They worried they may miss out on important milestones. 

"When we are in school it's a whole lot easier to go down the hall, call a classroom to get a kid, talk to them in the hallways, go to the performances and games and all that to just be more present in their life," Tienhaara said.

Rhinelander High School counselor Ryan Tienhaara is doing his best to make sure students are getting the support they need during the Coronavirus pandemic.

"It's important to talk about those frustrations if you are frustrated," Tienhaara said.

Tienhaara says while most seniors have some idea of what's next after high school, some students, including juniors will have to make big decisions remotely.

"Most schools are closed down for who knows how long so it could be lots of virtual visits," Tienhaara said. 

For kids feeling lonely, stressed or anxious, Tienhaara urges students to lean on family and friends.

"Open up those lines of communication with everybody because we are all kind of struggling through this together," Tienhaara said.

While many are worried about missing out on certain experiences, counselors suggest seniors to create new ones by capturing this moment in its own milestone.

"All seniors across the U.S. essentially have lost their spring semester. Not necessarily that that's a good thing but to know that they are not alone while going through these emotions and feeling the frustrations," Tienhaara said.

In the meantime, Tienhaara hopes education is prioritized from here on out and nothing is taken for granted.

"I hope that it will kind of provide a sense of privilege that it is to get an education, go to school and to just kind have a normal life that we used to have. You know it's that saying you don't know what you got until it's gone. I think we are all feeling that right now," Tienhaara said.

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Drive to the entrance at Rib Mountain State Park and you usually have to stop there to pay.

That's no longer the case, after the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) waived entrance fees at all state parks and trails to encourage sensible outdoor activity.

"We want folks to use those responsibly and travel within their own communities and maintain social distancing in small groups," said recreation partnership sections chief Missy VanLanduyt

Getting rid of the fees is meant to cut down on potential overcrowding problems at the parks.

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MARATHON COUNTY - In a press release, the Marathon County Public Health Department confirms that a fourth person tested positive for COVID-19.

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WASHINGTON - Former Vice President Joe Biden took his virtual presidential campaign to the next level Monday when he launched a podcast as the coronavirus forces him to get creative in reaching voters otherwise distracted by a global pandemic.

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ANTIGO - For Tapped Maple Syrup co-owner Jeremy Solin, harvest season usually means enjoying the outdoors with his four employees, neighbors and family.

"Maple syrup is a big family and community time for us usually," said Solin. "We love to have people out in the woods with us, tapping trees and collecting sap and being part of the cooking process. We just can't do that this year and so its kind of a lonely maple syrup season.

But the growing fears of coronavirus shrunk the team down to just five - making his farm in Antigo eerily quiet.

"I think we'll be okay," said Solin. "It just means a lot more work for fewer people essentially to try and keep up and more stress in a sense during the process of the season."

It's more work for Solin, but still same volume of syrup.

Supply won't be the issue - Solin is concerned about the demand.

"We work with a lot of restaurants, bars, coffee shops who are obviously really struggling at this point," said Solin. "We're concerned about their survival as a small business and partner of ours and friends of ours so as we lose those businesses that's going to affect our business as well."

Coronavirus does not discriminate between essential and non-essential businesses.

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MADISON - Gov. Tony Evers asked President Donald Trump on Tuesday to issue a major disaster declaration for the state of Wisconsin due to the coronavirus pandemic, as unemployment claims hit a daily high and the state's health secretary warned lawmakers that Medicaid enrollments were going to increase dramatically.

Evers said he hoped the declaration, which also would cover Wisconsin's federally recognized tribes, would allow the states to access critical programs to support its response, including community disaster loans, public assistance, direct assistance and crisis counseling.

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RHINELANDER - The price of gas at the Holiday Station on Courtney Street in Rhinelander is just under $1.76 per gallon as of Monday afternoon.

It's the same over at the Shell Station near Trig's.

And at the Krist Gas Station where Josie Forbis works, you'll find gas for $1.70…the lowest price in Rhinelander on Monday afternoon.

"We go based off of where everybody else is at and try to beat those prices," said station manager Josie Forbis.

This is consistent with a national price decline.

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