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Issue of the Week: Rising Costs of Family Health Insurance

Plus Heroes and Jerks of the Week

Sep. 16, 2009
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The highly respected Families USA has performed a state-by-state study of health insurance costs over the past 10 years. The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization found that, in Wisconsin, the average annual premium for a family health insurance plan has risen more than 4.5 times faster than the rate of wage increases. In the past 10 years, Wisconsin wages rose 20.4% while, in that same time period, the average annual premium for a family health insurance plan rose 93.6%. A family plan rose on average from $7,112 in 2000 to $13,772 in 2009. At this rate of increase for health insurance premiums, unless something changes, most employers will be forced to scale back their plans to just catastrophic coverage, shift the majority of the costs onto their employees, or drop their health insurance plans entirely. This is a frightening set of facts for the vast majority of Wisconsinites who get their health insurance from their employers.

Hero of the Week:Pat Morrissey of MargaretAnn’s Place

After she retired from her teaching career, Pat Morrissey still felt she had plenty more to give to area children. So she took a position at MargaretAnn’s Place, a nonprofit organization serving the needs of grieving children and their family members. Morrissey wears many hats at MargaretAnn’s Place, including that of school coordinator. Founded in Kenosha in 1998 (now with sites in Milwaukee and Racine), the center sponsors peer support and education groups, outreach programs, and telephone support and referrals for children coping with the loss of a family member. Morrissey’s exemplary dedication to area youth and families makes her our Hero of the Week. Readers wishing to volunteer or donate needed items to MargaretAnn’s Place are encouraged to call 414-732-2663 or visit www.margaretannsplace.org.

Jerk of the Week: Sheriff David Clarke

Remember the “Tea Parties” organized and heavily funded by members of right-wing special-interest groups who tried to pretend that these events across the country were just spontaneous grassroots uprisings? Well, they’re back: The Tea Party Movement Continues is their Part Two, and Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke is one of their scheduled speakers. Clarke, as usual, will rail against government and government spending. Does this man not realize that he has spent his entire career working in the public sector and being paid by the taxpayers, and that he personifies exactly what he seems to despise? Currently, he earns about $130,000 a year, in addition to a very generous health benefits package, to mismanage the sheriff’s department. His mismanagement has resulted in several lawsuits that have cost taxpayers even more money. Now, Mr. Clarke, if you are so upset with government spending and taxes, why don’t you have the integrity to give back a percentage of your salary to help cover the additional taxpayer costs incurred by your mismanagement and resultant lawsuits.


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