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Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012

Health Care Madness

Walker pleases the tea party and no one else

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Nobody ever said mad tea partiers running around in tinfoil hats had to make any sense.

In the name of preventing President Barack Obama from obliterating liberty in America through a government takeover of health care, state tea party groups have convinced their tea party governor, Scott Walker, to turn Wisconsin’s health care over to—you’d never guess—President Obama and the federal government.

Actually, it could be one of the best things Walker has ever done for the state.

We can only imagine what kind of lousy system for delivering health care to citizens of Wisconsin would be set up by a state government that doesn’t believe in delivering health care to citizens of Wisconsin.

It’s doubtful very many ordinary folks understand the current argument between Republican governors and the Obama administration over creating state health care exchanges.

The basic idea is to have somewhere to go—most likely a website these days—to compare exactly what insurance plans would pay and how much they would cost. Then you could buy the best insurance for yourself through the exchange.

That doesn’t sound very controversial, does it? There must be something more to it than that. There must be some sort of horrendous government intrusion that would rob somebody of liberties.

You’re right. Insurance companies would no longer be free to refuse to sell people insurance because of pre-existing conditions. Insurance companies also would be robbed of their liberty to cancel someone’s insurance just because that person became seriously ill and began costing the insurance company money. That’s why it’s called insurance.

Government intrusion also would stop insurance companies from discriminating against women by charging them more than men for less coverage, as they have in the past.

The government also would require insurance companies to provide free mammograms, cervical cancer screenings and contraception even if the companies were run by grumpy old men who would rather not.

Damn that liberty-shattering government intrusion!

 

Walker Turns Down Millions—Again

Before you start weeping openly for those poor insurance companies enduring such horrendous government restrictions, consider this little sweetener to ease their heart-rending burdens. Insurance companies, which already were making money hand over fist, will get an estimated 30 million new customers.

That’s because almost everyone will be required to have insurance from employers or through the state insurance exchanges.

Aha! There’s that end of liberty in America. We’re required to have insurance instead of just going to emergency rooms when we get sick and letting someone else pay for it. What if we can’t afford it?

Ta da! Insurances exchanges to the rescue! Through the exchanges, those making less than four times the federal poverty level will be eligible for federal subsidies reducing the cost of their insurance.

Those state insurance exchanges actually sound kind of nifty. That’s why even conservative business groups such as Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce have encouraged Walker to start setting up one.

Former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle already began the process. To help Walker stay on track, President Obama sent him $38 million to continue designing an exchange tailored specifically to Wisconsin.

But because extremists on the far right don’t like President Obama or the federal government (with the exception of their own Social Security and Medicare), Walker sent that $38 million right back.

Walker makes a habit of turning down money that could create jobs and otherwise help the people of his state simply to please the tea parties.

He became a right-wing talk show hero by sending back more than $800 million in federal funds that could have made Wisconsin the center of high-speed rail in the Midwest, creating jobs and expanding businesses from Chicago to Milwaukee and Madison and ultimately through northern Wisconsin as well.

When it came to improving health care and lowering the cost of insurance for Wisconsinites, Walker preferred to publicly engage in wishful thinking that it would never happen.

When Walker shut down planning for a state exchange, he was hopeful the U.S. Supreme Court would declare the health care reform law unconstitutional. Self-proclaimed tea party constitutional experts all said it would. Instead, the court upheld the law.

Then Walker said he wouldn’t plan an exchange because he was hopeful President Obama would be defeated. Then Republicans, led by their white knight, Mitt Romney, could kill health care reform. Instead, the president was re-elected resoundingly.

Now Walker, instead of doing his job, will turn over control of Wisconsin’s insurance exchange to that big, bad federal government the right despises so much.

That last holdouts are nine tea party Republican legislators. Even more ridiculous than Walker refusing to provide leadership for his state, they actually want to arrest any federal officials who try to improve or expand health care in Wisconsin.

Perhaps we should arrest them instead on charges of impersonating representatives of Wisconsin’s interests.

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