Tommy Thompson on Health Care

Former Secretary of H.H.S.; former Republican Governor (WI)

Repeal ObamaCare

Question 10. Will you vote for a full repeal of ObamaCare?

Mark Neumann: Yes

Tommy Thompson: Yes

Source: 2012 Wisconsin Tea Party Senate Debate Questionnaire , Aug 13, 2012

Recommended $200M for UN Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS

I met with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, a soft-spoken diplomat from Ghana. Kofi & I didn't agree on every issue, but we found common ground in our determination to deal with the AIDS pandemic. He suggested creating a new Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS Tuberculosis, and Malaria that would marshal resources from around the world.

I listened but made no commitment. I considered the UN to be cumbersome, bureaucratic, and inefficient. I was concerned that a fund composed of contributions from different countries with different interests would not spend taxpayer money in a focused or effective way.

Nevertheless, Colin Powell and HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson recommended that I support the Global Fund with an initial pledge of $200 million. They felt it would send a signal for America to be the first contributor. Their persistence overcame my skepticism. I announced our commitment in May 2001."This morning, we have made a good beginning," I said in my speech. I didn't add that I had plans to do more.

Source: Decision Points, by Pres. George W. Bush, p.336 , Nov 9, 2010

Proposed block grants to states for all of Medicaid

The Bush administration's then secretary of health and human services Tommy Thompson proposed a straightforward and uncomplicated plan to fix the Medicaid program. Appearing at the annual governors' conference, he proposed that each state annually be given the Medicaid dollars it had received during the prior year, adjusted for inflation and changes in the state's population of the poor. The state would be allowed to fashion its health-care program for the poor as the state chose.

These distortions and inequities in Medicaid have become so severe that governors like me were willing to trade the federal government's open checkbook for the ability to control our own state's program. We were convinced that we could save money and provide better care for more people who really needed it. Yet Congress rejected Thompson's plan. Since then, I haven't seen a better idea for fixing Medicaid come so close to becoming law.

Source: No Apology, by Mitt Romney, p.161-162 , Mar 2, 2010

Convert illness & disease system to wellness & prevention

Q: What do you think of Sen. Grassleyís compromise plan to cover 3.2 million more poor children by raising the cigarette tax, which Pres. Bush has threatened to veto--who do you side with, Pres. Bush or Sen. Grassley?

A: Neither one of them are right. The problem is, weíve got a sickness, illness and disease society. We spend 90% of $2 trillion--thatís 16% of the gross national product--on getting people well after they get sick. Less than 10% of the money keeping you out of the hospital, out of the nursing home. Does anybody in America think thatís a smart idea? I think itís dumb. Letís go to wellness and prevention. Number two, letís start managing diseases in America. Letís make sure that individuals that are chronically ill and physically disabled are able to get the quality of health and therefore get the quality of life. They take up 66% of the cost. You could reduce that down to 50%.

Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate , Aug 5, 2007

End breast cancer by the year 2015 for all women in America

Q: What is the defining mistake of your life and why?

A: My mother-in-law died of breast cancer. My wife has breast cancer. My young daughter has breast cancer. I donít think I was supportive enough, and thatís why Iím vowing right now to end breast cancer by the year 2015 for all the women in America.

Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate , Aug 5, 2007

Transform health care into wellness & prevention system

We spend $2 trillion on health care; thatís 16% of the gross national product. 93% of the cost of health care goes into waiting until after you become sick. Only 7% of the money is used to keep you well in the first place. We got to completely transform the health care system, make it a wellness system, and make it a prevention system.
Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 3, 2007

Educate public about chronic illnesses, to avoid them

  1. We got to completely transform the health care system, make it a wellness system, and make it a prevention system.
  2. We have 125 million Americans that have one or more chronic illnesses. In order to change this we have to educate the American people about tobacco, about diabetes, about cardiovascular and about obesity. You do that, youíll be able to change health care.
  3. 25% of Americans use 2/3 of the cost of health care. If you manage those diseases, you can reduce that down to 50% and save lots of money.
  4. information technology--electronic medical records, a patient bill of rights, and be able to have ePrescribing, and if you do that, youíre going to be able to save billions of dollars. If you just go paperless, you will save 10% of the cost of health care.
Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 3, 2007

Supports eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in health

In recent years, widespread attention has been focused on eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in health. Pres. Clinton & his Secretary of Health & Human Services committed the nation to the ambitious yet reachable goal of eliminating racial and ethnic disparities by 2010 in six areas of health status while continuing the progress that has been made in improving the overall health of the American people. The six focus areas of the initiative are:
  1. infant mortality
  2. cancer screening and management
  3. cardiovascular disease
  4. diabetes
  5. HIV infection/AIDS
  6. immunizations.
This initiative enjoys bipartisan support, and has been endorsed by current HHS Secretary Thompson. Through this dialogue, a number of proposals emerged for addressing disparities, including:
  1. enhancing access to health insurance
  2. addressing numerous gaps in research
  3. educating and training culturally proficient health care practitioners
  4. educating and empowering health care consumers.
Source: Thomas Perez at Symposium on Diversity in Health Professions , Jul 1, 2001

Vows to protect Medicare, add drug benefit

We will modernize Medicare so it is effective and financially sound for todayís seniors and for tomorrowís. And, we must find a way to provide seniors and the disabled affordable access to prescription drugs. In the next few weeks, we will craft a Patientís Bill of Rights. We will aggressively act to provide access to affordable health insurance for the more than 43 million Americans who are uninsured.
Source: Introductory speech to HHS Employees , Feb 2, 2001

Support small business insurance pool for uninsured

The governor is investing $400,000 in one-time seed money to bring small businesses together to provide health coverage for their workers. The small business health insurance pool will be operated in the private sector.
Source: WI Governorís website , Jan 8, 2001

Goal is for all WI residents to have health benefits

Wisconsin ranks second in the country with highest percentage of its residents covered by health insurance at 94 percent. But Gov. Thompson is working to extend affordable health insurance to everyone. The Badger Care program will provide affordable, quality health care benefits to all low-income working families with income below 185% of the federal poverty level.
Source: WI Governorís website , Jan 8, 2001

Supports prescription drug savings plan for poor seniors

I am proposing a Low-Income Prescription Drug Savings Plan that will save seniors $792 a year. Anyone over 65 with an income below 185 percent of poverty will be eligible. The program cuts the prices for the most expensive drugs covered by Medicaid, passes the savings to low-income seniors who pay for medications out of pocket, requires pharmacies to charge no more than the Medicaid reimbursement rate.
Source: State of the State speech, Jan. 26, 2000 , Jan 26, 2000

BadgerCare will provide uninsured with affordable care

Federal officials and the State of Wisconsin have reached an agreement that will allow our state to offer BadgerCare, a program that will provide health insurance for the very poor. Under the plan, Wisconsin will receive critical federal money to help 48,800 uninsured low-income families - including 22,700 children and -- have access to high quality health care. For the first time, working families who have no insurance through their workplace, or who canít afford to purchase insurance, will have affordable health care. The plan fills gaps between Medicaid and private insurance without supplanting or ďcrowding outĒ private insurance. The service delivery system for BadgerCare is built on Wisconsinís existing Wisconsin Medicaid HMO managed care system.
Source: Speech on health care , Dec 27, 1998

Let states reform Medicaid; fight ďone size fits allĒ

[Under the 1981 Boren Amendment], states get sued if we do not pay enough [for healthcare]. It has cost Wisconsin $120 million. It has proven to be one of the most costly federal regulations on record. Imposing a ďone size fits allĒ mandate ends up costing more.

Medicaid costs have been increasing at an average of 20% a year, and they make up about 20% of all state spending. This leaves budgets with escalating Medicaid costs that are almost bankrupting states. We have used managed care and HMOís in order to reduce payments in Wisconsin to one half the national average.

I am fighting hard to get Washington to recognize the importance of sharing authority. Give us a chance at the state level to make programs more effective for the individual citizens of our states. The states know what to do. Give us the freedom to do it.

Source: United We Stand America Conference, p.208-9 , Aug 12, 1995

Maintain Medicare funding of HMO benefits.

Thompson signed the Midwestern Governors' Conference resolution:

Source: Resolution of Midwestern Governors' Conf. on Medicare Equity 99-MGC2 on Oct 14, 1999

Protect state tobacco settlement funds from federal seizure.

Thompson adopted a letter to Congressional leaders from 53 Governors:

As you know, preserving and protecting the state tobacco settlement funds is the nationís Governorsí highest priority. We strongly urge you to reach final agreement and pass the conference report on the emergency supplemental appropriations bill soon, and to retain the Senate provision that protects our settlement funds from federal seizure.

Many of our state legislatures are currently in session, and some have already completed work on their budgets. Therefore, it is critical that conferees reach agreement quickly on this issue. Governors are unified in their commitment to ensuring that the funds remain in the states and that there be no restrictions on statesí ability to tailor spending to meet the needs of their citizens.

We offer our strongest support for conferees to recede to the Senate version of the bill containing the Hutchison/Graham bipartisan tobacco recoupment protection legislation.

Source: National Governor's Association letter to Congress 99-NGA31 on Apr 14, 1999

Other candidates on Health Care: Tommy Thompson on other issues:
WI Gubernatorial:
Scott Walker
WI Senatorial:
Herbert Kohl
John Schiess
Mark Neumann
Ron Johnson
Tammy Baldwin

WI politicians

Retiring as of Jan. 2013:

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Page last updated: Oct 22, 2012