Chippewa Herald: Duffy tours hospital, EDI and two sand plants in Chippewa County

Jul 11, 2011In the News

Representative tours hospital, EDI and two sand plants

By THE HERALD | | Posted: Saturday, June 11, 2011 8:00 am

U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Ashland) got a tour of Chippewa County businesses on Thursday, including a hospital, two sand plants and the world’s top die making company.

Along the way, he responded to questions about Medicare, the new health care law and a national $14.3 trillion shortfall.

The price of health care under a new system promoted by Democratic President Barack Obama was brought up during Duffy’s visit to Extrusion Dies Industries.

“Personally the cost of health care has gone up tremendously and families actually struggle (with that),” EDI sales director Bob Deitrick said.

Deitrick said there were concerns raised with Duffy, a member of the Joint Economic Committee, whether the new health care system will be fiscally responsible. The representative also answered questions from members of the Chippewa County Economic Development Corp.

Duffy, who took office in January, spent 45 minutes taking with people and another 25 minutes touring the EDI plant, according to Kelly Harings-Mrozinski of EDI.

Deitrick got to tell Duffy of EDI’s success, being the premiere die-making company in the world. He said the company has hired 35 people in the past six months, investing heavily in a second facility in Chippewa Falls, including adding new machines and tooling.

Duffy was impressive, Deitrick said. “I think he’s a good future in politics if he can keep his ideals.”

Earlier Thursday, Duffy met with about 20 members of St. Joseph’s Hospital Advocacy Committee. There his focus was on what can be done to sustain the Medicare program.

“There is no dispute from Democrats or Republicans. The trajectory (of Medicare) is unsustainable,” Duffy said, according to a press release from St. Joseph’s Hospital.

“We have Baby Boomers that are about to retire.

“We have real issues with how we are going to deal with Medicare,” he said. “We’re trying to secure Medicare, save it, protect it.”

As he has done elsewhere, Duffy said under a Republican plan  people who are 55 and older would get to stay in the current Medicare system.

People who are 54 and younger would pay a portion, similar to a health insurance premium, which is run through the Medicare Premium Support program.

“You have a market that’s going to compete for your business,” he said. “I voted for a plan that I think is going to work.”

Duffy met with St. Joseph’s Hospital President and CEO, Joan M. Coffman, took a brief tour of the hospital’s Emergency Services Area, Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine and Radiology, and then was the guest speaker during the hospital’s Advocacy Committee meeting.

Duffy called for a fair and simple tax code in which all businesses and the independently wealthy would pay 25 percent of income – no exemptions. Based on income brackets, all others would pay less than 25 percent.

Duffy also toured EOG Resources, which plans to mine sand in the town of Howard and process it in Chippewa Falls, and then Superior Silica Sands LLC in New Auburn.

“EOG recognizes what we’ve known here in Western Wisconsin for many years, that we have an extremely productive, hard-working and competitive workforce,” Duffy said in a press release. “Their presence in this area is precisely the kind of investment that will pave the way to economic recovery.”

“Given the current unemployment rate of 7.4 percent in the state of Wisconsin, EOG is pleased to be a part of a project that we expect to bring 40 to 50 solid, good paying, new jobs to this area over the next year,” said Tim Stauffer, regional operations manager for EOG.

Duffy then went to Superior Silica Sands, LLC in New Auburn. While there, he received an update by the company’s president and CEO, Richard Shearer.

“With the congressman’s support, and that of the Chippewa County Economic Development Corp., we have found western Wisconsin to be an ideal arena for new business opportunities,” Shearer said in a press release from Duffy’s office.

“We are anxious to have a substantial corporate presence in Chippewa and Barron Counties by this fall.”