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Our View: Hats off to Kitty Rhoades

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opinion River Falls, 54022

River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

We congratulate Hudson's own Kitty Rhoades on her recent appointment as secretary of the Wisconsin's Department of Health Services.

We support Kitty, not only because she is a Hudsonite, but because she is well qualified for the position.

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Gov. Scott Walker said "Kitty has the qualities necessary to lead the Department of Health Services, and I am confident her long history of active involvement in health care issues will serve Wisconsin very well,"

While in the Legislature, Rhoades, a graduate of UW-River Falls, served as the co-chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Finance and on the Health and the Aging and Long-Term Care standing committees.

She has received several awards from advocacy groups for her leadership on long-term care issues, including her support for the development of consumer driven programs.

Of course, her department has some huge challenges ahead.

Among the biggest will be determining the impact and role of the Affordable Health Care Act. How will "ObamaCare" impact the state of Wisconsin? Rhoades said her department has been doing modeling to see how the program will work and how it will affect businesses and the insurance they provide for their employees.

DHS, with more than 5,000 employees, is responsible for many services including long-term care, physical and developmental disability programs, substance abuse, mental health and public health programs, regulation and licensing of a variety of facilities, operation of care and treatment facilities, nutrition assistance programs, family care, medical assistance and health care for low income families, elderly and disabled persons.

When you look at the responsibilities of the department, the leadership of Kitty Rhoades will touch the lives of virtually every resident in the state.

Kitty has a background of leadership. She represented St. Croix and Pierce counties in the Wisconsin Assembly from 1999 to 2010. Before her election to the Legislature, Rhoades was director of the Hudson Chamber of Commerce. Born in Hudson, Rhoades received her bachelor's degree from UWRF and her master's from the Illinois State University. She has also served as an educator, small business owner and consultant. After leaving the assembly, she was appointed deputy secretary of DHS by Gov. Walker in January 2011.

Wisconsin has been a leader in reforming health care systems and we expect Kitty will provide strong leadership. We've watched Kitty Rhoades in action over the years and have seen her in accomplishments. We expect she will serve the state, and its people, well.

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