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Medicaid Rates, UWS Funding Among Superior Days Agenda Issues

Updated: January 10, 2019 06:34 PM

In just over a month, delegates from northwest Wisconsin will be heading down to Madison with one goal, to make sure their voices are heard at the 34th Superior Days.

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Delegates will meet with each state representative and senator, state agencies and the new governor to bring light to three issues this year. 

"The Medicaid rate has gone down to Superior Days almost every year for 20 years," said Dave Longsdorf, Deputy Director with Douglas County Health and Human Services. 

That issue is once again on the top of the list of issues delegates will be fighting for this year.

"The Medicaid issue is a problem throughout the state of Wisconsin but because we're right next to a major urban center that does have a much higher Medicaid rate, most of the services choose to relocate on the Minnesota side rather than the Wisconsin side," said Longsdorf.

He says there hasn't been much progress made with this and addressing the issue of access to drug addiction treatment in northwest Wisconsin.

"Last year, we got a $7 raise, which is still insufficient to meet the need," Longsdorf added. "70 percent of the cases that I see on a daily basis are alcohol-related. From that point, there is always another drug that progresses throughout the region."

However, he says it's a cause he and other citizens, County and City leaders will continue fighting for. The other two priorities include providing an additional $2.68 million for UWS.

"They have received pretty disastrous funding cuts in recent years," said Superior Mayor Jim Paine.

They will also be lobbying for a one-half local option sales tax to fund road improvements.

"We're not getting a lot of money from the state on transportation. We have a unique climate in far northern Wisconsin that causes us longer winters and more challenging road conditions," Paine added.

Paine says this region has often been forgotten about in Madison but he's hopeful with new leadership at the capitol that will change.

"We've had one party control and that party has not been very friendly to northern Wisconsin. We now have an administration in Madison that at least recognizes that we exist. This is a Governor connected to the north so I have a lot of optimism that  we're going to make real progress," Paine added.

As far as leadership in Superior, the municipal filing deadline has passed so Mayor Paine will be running unopposed in the upcoming Spring election.

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