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I recently attended the Joint Committee on Finance Hearing on April 5 in Janesville to talk about the importance of rural health and the challenges we face.

At the hearing, I spoke about how the biggest contributor to our health is the zip code we live in. It impacts what people do and do not have access to. We know our youth are exposed to more tobacco and alcohol advertising and more affordable prices based on local data from the Wisconsin Retailer Assessment Project. Juneau County also has limited resources for substance use treatment and mental health services. Unfortunately, this is not abnormal for rural counties and we need community partners to help tackle these community issues.

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We can’t lose sight of the fact that tobacco remains the number one cause of preventable death in Wisconsin and costs us over $4.6 billion in health care and lost productivity costs. Medicaid expansion would help the state invest more in vital programs like tobacco prevention and control, dental care and the Healthy Women, Healthy Babies Initiative, all things critical to Juneau County. Rural health is important and I hope our state policymakers are listening. cuph.org/uploads/2/5/8/5/25855930/tobacco_consumption_mortality_morbidity_2019_final.pdf

Amanda Dederich, Mauston 

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