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With Chris Larson Out Of The Race, Which Senate Candidate Will Wisconsin Progressives Gravitate To?

Meet Gillian Battino

Last week, I was surprised to read the results of a Senate poll of Milwaukee Democrats by Republican Kansas City-based pollster Remington Research for a Milwaukee conservative-leaning 501c4. These were the results:

  • Mandela Barnes- 39%

  • Chris Larson- 15%

  • Gillian Battino- 5%

  • Alex Lasry- 4%

  • Sarah Godlewski- 3%

  • Chantia Lewis- 3%

  • Tom Nelson- 2%

That Mandela is coming in first is no surprise but that the 3 most progressive candidates, Mandela, Larson (who has since withdrawn and endorsed Mandela) and Battino, beat the corporate Dems in the race-- Lasry and Godlewski-- so decisively, came as a surprise to me and a shock to the pro-Lasry conservative firm that initiated and paid for the poll.

I hadn't heard much about Gillian Battino, a radiologist and mother of 6 from Wausau, until I spoke with her on the phone over the weekend. I was flabbergasted that she is running ahead of the two multimillionaires, Lasry (actually, son of a billionaire who lives in my neighborhood here in L.A.) and Godlewski, who have been relentlessly pushed by the corporate establishment and the corporate media.

Battino would certainly make a refreshing candidate for anyone who is sick and tired of politicians. She voted for Bernie in both primaries and told me she is an avid supporter of both the Green New Deal and Medicare for All. Her campaign website lays out a comprehensive program of issue positions that will thrill any progressive-- and anger any conservative corporate Dem. A couple of weeks ago, Madison's Cap Times ran an OpEd she wrote, For-profit health care has created a medical emergency. Unlike tepid candidates trying to say what they think voters-- and donors... and Schumer-- want to hear, Battino went right for the jugular: "As a radiologist specializing in breast imaging, I have seen many patients who have felt a lump and suspected they may have breast cancer but have delayed seeing a doctor often because of the price tag of health care. This is why we need a single-payer Medicare for All system." Democratic voters may love this but big donors and Schumer... not so much. But Battino is running a grassroots campaign and doesn't expect any more for the insurance industry or the medical-industrial complex... nor from Schumer and the DSCC. Her appeal is directly to Wisconsin's Democratic voters.

"[O]pponents of Medicare for All are putting insurance and pharmaceutical companies ahead of people," she wrote. "They disingenuously cite its cost as the reason for their opposition. This is nonsense. Numerous economic studies have shown a single-payer Medicare for All would decrease the cost and improve the quality of health care in the U.S., saving taxpayers trillions over the next decade. So why does our current healthcare system work this way? The reason is grotesquely simple: profit. Our system trades health care as a commodity, as a luxury, for the enrichment of insurance and pharmaceutical companies and others. Ask any breast cancer survivor if they think their treatment is a luxury and see what they say." Radiologists-- more so than most medical professionals-- tend to be very conservative and very Republican. Battino certainly breaks that mold.

Medical bills are so overwhelming in the U.S. that over a quarter of GoFundMe fundraisers are for medical costs. The New York Times reported that medical debt, totaling $140 billion, is the most common reason for debt collectors to come knocking. And it is no surprise that this is worse in states where Medicaid was not expanded under the ACA.
And what do we get for this unjustifiable cost? A higher infant mortality rate than Latvia. A lower life expectancy than Greece and Chile. Worse health care outcomes for more money. Within the system the disparities are even greater. The high rates of infant mortality, and low life expectancy are borne disproportionately by people of color.
So where does the system “work?” In treating the wealthy. The wealthiest Americans get some of the best healthcare available, resulting in a higher life expectancy than poorer Americans, living 10 to 15 years longer.
These are deep-rooted issues that will require multifaceted solutions, but the first step is instituting Medicare for All. With a strong single-payer program that covers everyone, we can close the gaps and lift up those suffering the most.
And let’s not overlook the fact that providing everyone with quality health care would help close the shameful racial disparity in health outcomes. People with chronic conditions or disabilities would be able to rely on the care they need instead of counting pennies and hoping against hope they can pay their bills.
And with Medicare for All would come new freedoms. We wouldn’t worry about being uninsured, underinsured or paying exorbitant copays and deductibles to wasteful, for-profit corporations. If you want to switch jobs or pursue a new career you wouldn’t be tied to your boss’s insurance plan. Union workers and their families would be guaranteed health care and be better equipped to fight for higher wages and better working conditions. You wouldn’t be buried in medical bills that prevent you from buying a home or starting a business.
In addition to primary care and emergency care, Medicare for All would also cover vision, dental, hearing, reproductive care, addiction care, mental health and end-of-life care. Far too many private insurance plans consider the health of your teeth, sight, hearing and your mind as a luxury instead of an essential part of your overall health.
As the first woman physician in the U.S. Senate, I will fight to get you the healthcare you need.
We can build a system where the objective is to provide the best patient care, period. I hope to earn your trust in the coming campaign, and together we can cure the medical emergency that is our current system.

If you'd like to make sure Battino's voice remains part of this primary, please consider contributing to her campaign here. With Larson no longer in the race, she's certainly the most progressive running.

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