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Congressional listening session attracts 5,000

March 16, 2010
In The News

Wisconsin 3rd District Congressman Ron Kind (D-La Crosse) held a listening session for all Western Wisconsin constituents via telephone conference Wednesday night to cover an array of topics.

Half of the 16 questions Kind fielded related to health care reform, a particularly contentious issue across the nation and in Congress. He told the nearly 5,000 listeners who called in for the session that it was important action be taken now to solve the health insurance crisis the nation is suffering.

“The current system that we have today is failing too many people,” Kind told a New Lisbon caller who wanted to keep health care costs low.

Kind said that a key component to the 2,700-page bill would create a competitive market, similar to the Cadillac plans many federal employees enjoy, which would cut costs for the average citizen.

Currently, he said, it is the lack of competition that allows insurance companies to raise their rates at will and has led to the quickest rising costs for American people.

The congressman said another provision in the bill would require everyone – even people with pre-existing medical conditions – to have insurance, which would “spread the risk” over the entire country and reduce costs further, since insured citizens would no longer have to help pay for the uninsured.

Kind said tax credits and other measures would help make those costs more affordable for individuals and families that might struggle to cope with paying for health insurance. For people who like their current health coverage and doctor, he said, they can keep them.

Other matters the congressman covered included maintaining and creating jobs, as well as fiscal responsibility.

In response to a caller who questioned his voting record regarding high spending in Washington, Kind said that “there’s plenty of blame to go around.” Although he recently voted to increase the national debt ceiling, Kind added that Congress is beginning to take appropriate actions to control spending. “There’s going to be a ban on earmarks for all for-profit companies,” he said.

The Wisconsin representative said he approves of the “pay as you go,” also known as PAYGO, policy President Barack Obama signed off on last month.

In regard to jobs, Kind said he recognizes the troubles many Americans are having in finding steady work. His common response was that he would continue to fight for those people.

Todd Sauey, president of Reedsburg-based Columbia ParCar, alerted Kind of issues with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money coming in to help maintain jobs. Despite work orders coming in to produce small, low-speed electric cars, Sauey said he has had to reduce hours at the facility due to a lack of funding.

“It’s important that we get this going,” Kind said about ARRA money flowing to businesses, especially “green” businesses like ParCar.

Kind said he would look into the matter and added, “Hopefully we’re going to make some progress on this soon.”

Up for reelection in November, Kind said he will continue to host town hall meetings on telephone conference calls and will begin making more in-person visits as the weather gets better.