I wonder if there's ever before been a time in our history when a group of politicians broke into cheers because thousands of their constituents were told they were going to lose their health insurance.
That's what happened last week when giant Anthem insurance announced it was withdrawing from the Wisconsin Affordable Care Act marketplace by the end of the year. Of course, our own Gov. Scott Walker was among those leading the cheers.
It's more important to the Republican Party and charlatans like Walker to destroy Obamacare than to actually improve health coverage for the American people. Rather than work to improve the ACA by making necessary tweaks to the seven-year-old law, they have concocted "replacement" schemes that promise to take coverage away from millions of Americans and ultimately leave to the states the decision on whether to cover pre-existing conditions.
While the Senate version that was hatched in secret in recent weeks would remove that power from the states, even if it passes it will still have to go back to the House, where the states' rights sentiment is much stronger. Both versions, while pulling back on health care for needy people, would eliminate the taxes on millionaires that helped pay for insurance subsidies and will result in a huge tax windfall for the wealthy. Either plan amounts to a huge transfer of resources from the poor to the rich.
And while the Obamacare haters in Wisconsin government blamed the "failed" ACA for Anthem's withdrawal, the real story is that they have been sabotaging Obamacare for years, creating an environment for health insurance companies that made it untenable for many of them to stay in the marketplace.
As state Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, pointed out following the Anthem announcement, the insurance industry itself has called the continued Trump administration threats to eliminate Obamacare insurance subsidies "the single most destabilizing factor in the individual market."
The pity is that the Republican Party, personified by Walker and his soulmate Paul Ryan, despise health care plans that they believe infringe on the "free market" — as if health care is something like buying bread at the corner store. They'd rather return to the pre-Obamacare days when nearly 50 million were without any coverage, health care costs were rising at double the annual rate of inflation and Americans' health costs were twice that of any other civilized country in the world.
It's an ideology — like "supply side" economics — that continues to fail the nation, but won't die.
But the Republicans are in charge now and can do what they want. What's known for sure, though, is that their primary interest isn't what's best for the people — it's what's best for their own special interests.
Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @DaveZweifel
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