Ron Johnson’s Imaginary Health Care Issues

Ron Johnson, who's taken back half of what he's said since entering the race for US Senate, has had one consistent story he tells on the stump and in interviews

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Ron Johnson, who’s taken back half of what he’s said since entering the race for U.S. Senate, has had one consistent story he tells on the stump and in interviews.

It’s a personal story about his daughter, which humanizes him (makes him seem a little less like a space alien who just entered our atmosphere) and sets up his complaints about national health care reform.

Maybe it’s because it is personal, but the news media have been giving him a pass and simply reporting the story without asking whether it makes any sense. (It doesn’t.)

The latest version was reported by the Racine Journal Times, but similar reports have appeared elsewhere. It goes like this, reported by WKOW-TV in Madison:.

While Johnson has related the experience of his eldest daughter’s medical emergency as an infant before, the Oshkosh businessman spoke of it in some detail for the first time in Madison.

Johnson said Carey Johnson had a serious heart condition requiring immediate surgery right after her birth twenty seven years ago.

Johnson said eight months later, his daughter required reconstruction of the upper chamber of her heart.

Johnson said his family pushed for cutting edge medical care.

“You sometimes have to go outside of where maybe you’re first going to find these very advanced centers and that’s what we had to do.”

Johnson said the insurance plan of his Oshkosh plastics manufacturing plant was not with a health maintenance organization (HMO) and did not carry the restrictions on providers and procedures typical with HMOs.

“I always made sure at Pacur, we’d have the type of fee-for-service that allowed that.”

Johnson said the company’s plan was market competitive and not a “Cadillac” plan. As company president, Johnson said he has the same health insurance plan as other employees.

At his campaign kickoff, he said:

Because it was such a severe and serious defect, I had to call around the country because there was various levels of surgical procedures to fix that, you know, some more advanced than others. So, I had the freedom to call around the country, talk to the most preeminent surgeons in the world, which means in America, and we found the most advanced treatment.

And they ended up at the University of Minnesota.

Well and good. Interesting personal story. But here’s where it takes a leap. Back to the Journal Times:

Johnson claimed national health care reform stifles the sort of cutting edge care that helped his daughter.

“This health care bill will destroy that level of innovation.”

He told the Journal Times health care reform will lead to “rationing” and lower the quality of health care.

At a candidate forum in Green Bay, he elaborated:

And I would argue that is going to lead to a single-payer system and I, I really cannot understand why anybody would want a single-payer Canadian style type of healthcare system that we know it’s going to result in. It’s going to result in rationing, it’s going to result in lower quality care, and from my standpoint it’s why I talked about my daughter Carey. I think it’s going to severely restrict innovation because I don’t believe the government is going to be efficient at running one-sixth of our economy. So healthcare would be number two.”

What on earth is he talking about, and why hasn’t a single reporter confronted him with the facts, or asked him how he can say that when the health care reform bill is nothing like he describes? This is not only not a single-payer plan, but it doesn’t even include a much-discussed public option.

There is nothing in the new law that would prevent Ron Johnson or anyone else from keeping the exact same insurance company and policy he has now.  If his daughter were born today instead of 27 years ago, he would have exactly the same options now that he did them.

We’re all happy that he has great insurance that he likes. We wish everyone were in that same situation, but the law was passed to try to provide coverage to those who are not so fortunate. Everyone may not be able to go to the University of Minnesota or Mayo Clinic if they choose, like he can, but they will have coverage.

No one is going to take Ron Johnson’s policy away. No one is going to make him join an HMO. And no one is going to stop him from shopping for the best medical care he can find.

He is talking through his hat — like a guy who must also believe the law includes some socialist death panels.

The health care reform actually encourages innovation at places like Mayo and rewards quality over quantity. Like many other things he’s said, Johnson has it bass-ackwards.

“We have the finest health care system in the world,” said Johnson in his Journal Times interview.

Perhaps, if you have health insurance, you might agree. If you’re one of the 15% of Americans without it, you might disagree. The World Health Organization ranks the US 37th.

Johnson’s own health care “plan,” if you can dignify it with that word, is three lines long on his campaign website.

AFTERTHOUGHT:  Some have questioned whether any insurance plan would let Johnson shop around the country, pick the highest priced doctor and treatment he could find, and have it paid for by his insurance.  Since no reporter we’re aware of has even asked him whether he paid a big bill himself, we don’t know.  But it doesn’t change the fact that his situation, whatever it was, would be exactly the same as before the new health care reform law passed

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