By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD – Voters in Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District will see a Marshfield resident on the Aug. 14 primary ballot, as former Marshfield Clinic President Brian Ewert takes on fellow Democratic candidate Margaret Engelbretson, Balsam Lake, for an opportunity to unseat Republican Congressman Sean Duffy in November.
Ewert is a nephrologist with the Marshfield Clinic Health System, which has a service district that aligns with the congressional district. Ewert also served as the clinic’s president from 2012-14. He said that his experience there helped urge him into pursuing a life in politics.
“About a year ago, Congress was debating healthcare, and I have had a 25-year history of taking care of people with kidney disease here in northern Wisconsin, so I have devoted my life to that service,” he said. “And then, last year, as Congress debated healthcare, all of the sudden they were working to dismantle and destroy the healthcare of the very patients that I’ve spent my life trying to take care of.
“We still have people who are uninsured and many people in the country who are inadequately insured. The Affordable Care Act was a substantial step forward, it built on decades of programs going back to the Veterans Administration programs, Indian Health Service, Community Health Centers, Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program – were all substantial improvements in getting healthcare for Americans.
“The Affordable Care Act took another good step. It took the uninsured rate down another 10 percent; however, it did not complete the job and there are very political reasons why that couldn’t be finished up back in 2010. So, we have work to do.
“Now we do have people, when they face a medical crisis, they also face a financial crisis. I’ve had patients who have been good business people, and they have $10,000 in their savings account for this year’s deductible, but they tell me they have to be cured by Dec. 31 because they don’t have another $10,000. Those are the lucky ones. Those are not typical Americans, in terms of having that much resource. So we need to improve that.”
Ewert said there are major issues facing Americans in rural areas, and he wants to be in a position where he can get the job done. He added that he is driven by service and is not in a position where he is just worried about winning the next election.
“I was raised in a family culture of service going back generations – that’s why I went to medical school, that’s why I became a doctor, that’s why I came to Marshfield to practice in a place where we take care of patients first and figure out the finances second, that is why I am running for Congress.
“I am coming to this not for my own personal gain. I am certainly at a point in my career, when we could have chosen to quietly drift into semi-retirement and retirement, but I do think it comes back to Eleanor Roosevelt quote that it was time to get engaged. I think we know that if we look over the course of human history, especially the last 500 years, we have slowly been advancing our communities and bending the arc of history towards justice.
“Every now and then we sense that it is starting to spring back to an earlier era of injustice and lack of liberty; and I think now is a time for all of us to realize what can we do to make sure that we continue to make our community stronger and that we continue to build those foundations, so that all individuals can excel and businesses can grow and families are strengthened.
“I would definitely see myself in that group of people who feel called to public service in order to advance the greater good.”
To learn more about Brian Ewert and his campaign, visit ewertforcongress.com or his Facebook page, Ewert For Congress.