The health of hard working families is vital to our communities.

When considering the Northwoods’ aging baby boomers, rural workers, and the rise of drug addiction health care starts to become a challenge.

During my time in the legislature, medical assistance funding in Wisconsin has increased by more than $1.3 billion to help individuals with limited resources receive the health care they need. We’ve fully funded SeniorCare to help seniors purchase the medication they depend on and put an additional $3.5 million in the Wisconsin Well Woman Program. This program provides preventative health screenings services to women with little or no health insurance coverage and provides treatment to women diagnosed with cervical or breast cancer.

Continuing to strengthen our communities has been a major priority. This includes helping the families of those suffering from Alzheimer’s and Dementia and continuing our work to help combat drug addiction.

I supported a package of bills aimed at treating and researching Alzheimer’s and dementia. It is now easier for families to afford respite care for their loved ones. Our caretakers, health professionals, and law enforcement now have greater tools to provide the proper care and support for our most vulnerable.

In the last decade, heroin abuse has become a serious issue – especially for rural communities. Drug poisoning killed more people than suicide, breast cancer, colon cancer, firearms, the flu, or HIV in 2013. This is why I supported the new Heroine Opioid Prevention Education (HOPE) program to help those struggling with addiction and to provide tools for law enforcement and first responders.

Today, laws are in place that require proper ID to pick up narcotic prescriptions, such as oxycodone, opium, and Vicodin, to help address prescription fraud. Our EMTs, first responders, police officers, and fire fighters can be trained to administer Naloxone Narcan, a drug used to counter the effects of opiate overdose. Individuals can feel safe that they won’t go to prison if they contact the police or medical professionals when another person is overdosing on controlled substances. Drug disposal programs – including several throughout the 12th Senate District – have been started and have removed several tons of drugs from the streets.

Strong and healthy families make strong and healthy communities. I look forward to four more years supporting those who need it the most.