MacIver News Service | July 21, 2010 [Madison, Wisc...] State health officials Wednesday released a long-range health vision that proposes increased taxes on alcohol, placing community health centers in middle schools, restricting the sale of alcohol at public events and would begin public schooling for children as young as three years old.
According to the Department of Health Services, the Healthiest Wisconsin 2020: Everyone Living Better, Longer sets out several major health improvement targets, including smoking prevention, lowering obesity rates, ensuring access to good nutrition and increasing exercise levels. The plan also emphasizes the need to improve systems that support health, such as research, health literacy, sustainable funding, partnerships and information systems.
“Everyone -- public health departments, educators, health care providers, advocacy groups, employers, community coalitions and residents -- can use this plan to make progress on at least one of these important goals,” said State Health Officer Seth Foldy.
The objectives also hit on some hot-button issues that may make the plan politically unpalatable. A push for universal pre-kindergarten, for example, would stretch currently strained public education budgets even further. Elsewhere in the plan the Department of Health Services states its intent to "promote policies that assure societal norms regarding healthy sexual expression."
The document also includes several obscure policy goals, including one proposal to "Allocate funding to establish the use of electronic methods of payment at farmers markets."
Critics assailed the plan as an attempt to grow government and increase taxes.
"It is ironic that the day after the Supreme Court ruled the Doyle administration's raid of the patient compensation fund was unconstitutional that the Democrats announce they won't address that issue and instead will tie the next Governor's hands and force him to deal with it; meanwhile they unveil this expansive new plan to increase the cost, scope and size of government," said State Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette). "It is hypocrisy at its worst."
Wisconsin Statute Section 250.07 (1)(a) requires the Department to produce a public health agenda for the people of Wisconsin at least every 10 years.
"The vision, goals, and mission of this plan are anchored in a set of core values that form the moral and aspirational compass for the plan,' writes Department of Health Services Secretary Karen Timberlake at the beginning of the proposal. "These include using science and evidence to solve problems, set policy, and take action; striving for fairness and justice; relying on leadership at all levels; and seeking to prevent rather than treat disease, injury, and disability."
According to the Department, more than 1,500 people statewide participated in the development of the plan, and implementation is scheduled to begin this fall. The objectives outlined in the vast document will be integrated into the work of foundations, universities, state and local government agencies, private industries and healthcare organizations.