08/13/2007 10:22 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Conservative Lawmakers Attack PSN Over Universal Health Care Campaign

As you may know, the Progressive States Network (on whose board I serve) has been working feverishly to support state legislators pushing universal health care. In recent weeks, those state-based efforts have been attacked by some progressives in Washington. Now, those efforts are being attacked by conservative legislators who fear that progressives are making too many gains on health care in the states.

In the interest of not being redundant, I'll just repost Progressive States' press release in the extended entry. For details on the Healthy Wisconsin program in specific, make sure to check out this recent article in the American Prospect by Progressive States' executive director Joel Barkin and Wisconsin State Sen. Jon Erpenbach, the lead sponsor of Wisconsin's health care legislation. Oh, and as a diligent board member, I would be remiss if I didn't make the ask: If you support the Progressive States Network's work, please consider making a contribution here.

Conservative Lawmakers Attack PSN Over National, State-Based Health Care Campaign

Right-wing legislators attack state-based health care coalitions

Conservative legislators today launched a coordinated attack on the Progressive States Network and the coalition of state-based advocacy groups pushing universal health care in state capitals throughout the country. After PSN and progressive allies held a national conference call to discuss Wisconsin's landmark health care legislation, Healthy Wisconsin, conservatives took to the state's largest newspaper to criticize the campaign, echoing similar attacks by the right-wing media voices like CNN's Glenn Beck, ABC's John Stossel and the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal.

Writing in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Republican Rep. Leah Vukmir lashed out at PSN and its ally Citizen Action of Wisconsin for pushing what would be the most aggressive state-based universal health care plan in the country. Vukmir also cites Tennessee conservative Rep. Susan Lynn's simultaneous attack on PSN and its national health care campaign.

"This is more proof that right-wing media outlets and conservative legislators are frightened - they see the writing on the wall," said Joel Barkin, Executive Director of the Progressive States Network. "They know that the state arena is where progressives are going to have the most immediate success in expanding health care coverage to all Americans. The Progressive States Network and our allies will not be intimidated by the right-wing machine - we will continue to aggressively support any legislator from any state in America who is ready to make universal health care a reality."

Healthy Wisconsin, which is the most comprehensive health care reform to pass a legislative body, would guarantee the same health care benefits that legislators receive to all residents who are not covered by Medicare, Medicaid or other public programs. Healthy Wisconsin's landmark approach would eliminate all premiums and replace them with affordable payroll-based contributions by employers and employees. All employers would pay 10.5% of wages and employees would pay 4% of social security wages. This approach ensures shared responsibility, with everyone paying their fair share to finance health care for all.

"Healthy Wisconsin is the most exciting health care for all reform making it through state legislatures right now," said Adam Thompson, Health Policy Analyst for PSN. "Its payroll-based financing shows that with everyone paying their fair share, you can ensure access to quality and affordable health care."

2007 has so far seen more state health care reform activity than in recent years. In addition to Wisconsin, California, Pennsylvania and Illinois are debating health care for all proposals and Oregon enacted a framework to ensure all state residents access to health care.

Recognizing that progressives are making gains in states and that groups like PSN are adding resources to the state-based health care push, the conservative movement has begun a concerted effort to prevent meaningful health care reform and deny Americans access to affordable health care. In Colorado, where a state commission is developing a universal health care proposal for the 2008 legislative session, conservative advocacy groups have already launched a preemptive campaign to derail the effort, even before a final proposal has been offered. Elsewhere, commission in Iowa, Kansas, and New Mexico are working to develop proposals for universal or near-universal health care in their states.

The Progressive States Network is a nonpartisan research and advocacy organization whose goal is to pass progressive legislation in state legislatures. One of the organization's most critical issue areas is health care, and it is gearing up for many major health care battles in the 2008 legislative sessions.