Opponents of a universal health care plan from Democrats in the Wisconsin Senate charge it's just an enormous tax hike: Republicans call Healthy Wisconsin a $15 billion dollar payroll tax. David Riemer is Director of the Wisconsin Health Project . He says opponents of the Healthy Wisconsin plan from state Senate Democrats have focused on how the universal health care program would be funded. "There would be as assessment that workers would pay, and another assessment that employers would pay," explains Riemer. "I don't want to quibble about what word to use. If you want to call it a tax, if you want to call it an assessment or a premium, those are all legitimate words." Whatever you call it, Riemer maintains the Healthy Wisconsin funding source is "a very different animal" from what is usually meant by a "tax," and one that would only be used to fund universal health care. Riemer says opponents of the Healthy Wisconsin care plan have focused on calling the funding mechanism a "tax," while failing to come up with their own solution to control escalating health care costs and provide coverage for the uninsured. Riemer also says that unlike most taxes, the Healthy Wisconsin assessment will lower costs, meaning lower health care costs for the typical family, for the typical company that provides insurance, and dramatically lower health care costs for government. The universal health care plan from Senate Democrats includes a sixteen member board of trustees, something else that critics have attacked, because the board would be appointed, not elected. The Healthy Wisconsin plan remains a key point of disagreement in ongoing budget negotiations at the state Capitol.

AUDIO: Bob Hague interview (13:00 MP3)

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