Tommy Thompson (R-WI)
Tommy Thompson Bio
Possible Republican Candidate for Senate seat that Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl is retiring from.
Biography of Tommy Thompson from US Archives
On January 24, 2001, the United States Senate confirmed Tommy G. Thompson as the 19th Secretary of Health and Human Services. He was sworn in on February 2, 2001 and served until January 26, 2005. As the nation’s leading advocate for the health and welfare of all Americans, Secretary Thompson led the department which employed more than 60,000 personnel and had a fiscal year 2001 budget of $429 billion.
Thompson has dedicated his professional life to public service, most recently serving as governor of Wisconsin since 1987. Tommy Thompson made state history when he was re-elected to office for a third term in 1994 and a fourth term in 1998.
During his 14 years as governor, Thompson focused on revitalizing Wisconsin’s economy. He also gained national attention for his leadership on welfare reform, expanded access to health care for low-income people, and education.
In 1996, Thompson enacted Wisconsin Works, or “W-2,” the state’s landmark welfare-to-work legislation, which served as a national model for welfare reform. The program required participants to work, while at the same time providing the services and support to make the transition to work feasible and permanent. W-2 provided a safety net through child care, health care, transportation and training assistance. Wisconsin’s monthly welfare caseload declined by more than 90 percent, while the economic status of those taking part in W-2 improved. The average family on AFDC had been 30 percent below the federal poverty line. However, at the average wage of people leaving W-2, families were 30 percent above the poverty line.
More recently, Thompson worked to extend health insurance to many low-income children and families. As of November 2000, The BadgerCare program – Wisconsin’s Medicaid/State Children’s Health Insurance Program for uninsured families – had enrolled more than 77,000 individuals. In addition, Wisconsin’s Pathways to Independence was the nation’s first program to allow the disabled to enter the workforce without the fear of losing health benefits. The program provides ready access to a coordinated system of services and benefits counseling. As governor, Thompson also created FamilyCare, designed to help elderly and disabled citizens, and allow them to receive care in their homes for as long as possible.
Also as governor, Thompson created the nation’s first parental school choice program in 1990, allowing low-income Milwaukee families to send children to the private or public school of their choice. He also created Wisconsin’s Council on Model Academic Standards, which implemented high academic standards for English language arts, math, science and social studies. Thompson also made unprecedented investments in the University of Wisconsin System through building projects and initiatives to attract and retain world-class faculty while keeping tuition affordable for students.
Thompson began his career in public service in 1966 as a representative in Wisconsin’s state Assembly. He was elected assistant Assembly minority leader in 1973 and Assembly minority leader in 1981. Thompson has received numerous awards for his public service, including the Anti-Defamation League’s Distinguished Public Service Award. In 1997, he received Governing Magazine’s Public Official of the Year Award, and the Horatio Alger Award in 1998. Thompson has also served as chairman of the National Governors’ Association, the Education Commission of the States and the Midwestern Governors’ Conference. Thompson also served in the Wisconsin National Guard and the Army Reserve.
Born: November 19, 1941 in Elroy, Wisconsin
Education: B.S. 1963, J.D. 1966, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Family: Married to Sue Ann with three children — Tommi, Kelli and Jason
Biography from AKIN GUMP STRAUSS HAUER & FELD LLP
Tommy G. Thompson focuses on developing solutions for clients in the health care industry, as well as for companies doing business in the public sector.
Before entering the private sector in 2005, Secretary Thompson enjoyed a long and distinguished career in public service. In 1966 he won a seat in Wisconsin’s state Assembly. He became assistant Assembly minority leader in 1973 and Assembly minority leader in 1981. Elected governor of Wisconsin in 1986, he was reelected in 1990, and in 1994 became the first governor in the state’s history to be elected to a third four-year term. In 1998 he was elected to a fourth term, and served in that position until his appointment as secretary of Health & Human Services in 2001.
As the head of the Department of Health & Human Services, Secretary Thompson served as the nation’s leading advocate for the health and welfare of all Americans. He worked to modernize and add prescription drug coverage to Medicare for the first time in the program’s history. A leading advocate of welfare reform, he also focused on expanding services to seniors, the disabled and low-income Americans.
As governor of Wisconsin, Secretary Thompson was perhaps best known for his efforts to revitalize the Wisconsin economy, for his national leadership on welfare reform and for his work in expanding health care access across all segments of society.
Secretary Thompson is well-known for his contributions to the U.S. response to the threat of bioterrorism and for his leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the United States and abroad, and he is chairman emeritus of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Secretary Thompson has received numerous awards for his public service, including the Anti-Defamation League’s Distinguished Public Service Award, Governing Magazine’s Public Official of the Year Award and the Horatio Alger Award, which is awarded annually to “dedicated community leaders who demonstrate individual initiative and a commitment to excellence—as exemplified by remarkable achievements accomplished through honesty, hard work, self-reliance, and perseverance.” He is a former chairman of the National Governors’ Association, the Education Commission of the States and the Midwestern Governors’ Conference.
Secretary Thompson received both his B.S. in 1963 and his J.D. in 1966 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a member of the District of Columbia and Wisconsin bars.
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