Eau Claire (WQOW) - Congressman Ron Kind stopped in Eau Claire on Tuesday to meet with local veterans at the American Legion and discuss his new bill designed to improve veterans' access to health care.
The bill focuses on making quality health care available for veterans at VA health care centers with additional funding for rural VA hospitals and clinics.
Kind said it is difficult for VA health care systems to attract and retain health care workers resulting in staffing shortages.
"It would allow these professionals to qualify for the National Health Service pool, which provides scholarships, grants and medical loan relief if they do decide to serve with a rural VA healthcare system," Kind said. "It's a better way of recruiting and retaining these health professionals so that our veterans are receiving the care they need in light of the competition."
Kind said he plans to introduce the bill in a bi-partisan fashion with hopes it will advance later in the year.
Prior to his appearance at the VA, Kind was at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon where he said this is not democracy's finest hour in Wisconsin.
Speaking about the upcoming presidential primary and election, Kind told his audience to watch out for an onslaught of negative ads, fueled by millions in "dark money" from political action committees and special interest groups.
"Given Wisconsin's importance in the presidential race, I expect there will be a lot," he said. Political experts believe Wisconsin will play a pivotal role in the 2020 presidential election, just as the state did in 2016, along with Michigan and Pennsylvania, where Democrats were accustomed to winning.
Kind spoke at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon in downtown Eau Claire. He said he was proud to be ranked as one of the most bipartisan members of Congress. "I'm not afraid to stand up to special interests from either side of the aisle," he told the crowd.
Kind complained about the Trump Administration's practice of taking "pots of money" from congressionally-approved projects for things the President favors, such as the southern border wall. "We in congress are a co-equal branch of government, charged under the constitution with appropriating money," he said.
Kind has represented western Wisconsin since 1997 and faced no opposition when he ran for re-election in 2016, but this year he has already drawn several potential opponents.