Walker should be embarrassed by Minnesota’s Obamacare success

Remember this the next time you hear Scott Walker brag about how more Wisconsin families “are going to sleep knowing they have access to health care.” (No, really, he said that. Or at least his ad people did. And you’re right, it’s kind of like giving the captain of the Titanic credit for James Cameron’s Oscar.)

A new University of Minnesota study has revealed that the number of Minnesota residents lacking health insurance plunged 40% between September and May. In all, say the researchers, 180,500 uninsured residents secured coverage during that period, lowering the state’s uninsured rate from 8.2% to 4.9%. Which just goes to show that Obamacare is an abject, colossal failure that accomplishes absolutely nothing; destroys our freedoms; turns pleasantly demure Hooters waitresses into radicalized, man-hating feminists; forces every patriotic American grandmother with so much as a precancerous polyp to be frogmarched Bataan-style into federal Soylent Green factories; and will ultimately destroy every last job in America with the possible exception of Fox News host and Heritage Foundation new-fact generator. You know, just as Republicans predicted.

By the way, that sound you hear from Republicans these days vis-à-vis Obamacare?

Now, the rate of uninsured has gone down in Wisconsin as well. Thanks to Obamacare. And no thanks to Gov. Walker. But you can bet Walker will try to take credit for it — relying, of course, on the full-scale smear campaign that Republicans have waged against Obamacare for months, which has created a persistent residual belief among many low-information voters that the ACA couldn’t possibly be responsible for anything remotely like a positive outcome. (Think that’s too cynical? Then take a look at Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell’s rhetorical prestidigitation as he attempts to disentangle his state’s extremely successful and popular Kynect insurance exchange from the hated, socialistic, granny-maiming Obamacare — which, of course, singlehandedly made Kynect possible.)

Now, there’s a mote of a grain of a kernel of truth to what Walker is claiming about Wisconsin’s uninsured rates. Last month, the Walker administration touted the 19,000 additional low-income residents who are gaining insurance under the governor’s plan. But remember, Walker turned down the new federal Medicaid funds available under the ACA, which could have gone a long way toward insuring even more of our residents.

Obviously, 19,000 is a far cry from the 180,500 Minnesota can claim.

Now, to some degree we’re comparing apples and oranges. The 19,000 figure refers to low-income residents, while the 180,500 number takes into account all income levels. But it stands to reason that most of those Gophers — if they were going without insurance — were lower-income residents.

And if previous polling data are to be believed, it will soon become obvious that states like Minnesota that embraced the Affordable Care Act are seeing more encouraging outcomes than states like Wisconsin that didn’t.

An April Gallup survey found that between 2013 and the first quarter of 2014, states that expanded Medicaid and set up their own health care exchanges under the ACA saw their uninsured rates decline by an average of 2.5 percentage points. States that took only one or neither of those actions saw their rates drop by just 0.8 percentage points.

Now, I’ve been to Minnesota. Once. Minneapolis, to be precise. It was a lovely city, with a unique combination of Midwestern folksiness and big-city vibrancy. But there’s nothing magical about the people there. The difference is in our respective governors and legislatures.

Minnesota’s governor, an unreconstructed lefty, embraced Obamacare. Our governor, a shrewd right-wing warrior, did not.



Meanwhile, Minnesota’s economy has well outpaced ours, even after Walker declared Wisconsin “Open for Business.”

Why? Well, if Walker is going to try to take credit for everything from Obamacare’s successes to our state’s modest recovery (while trying to blame former Gov. Jim Doyle for George W. Bush’s skillful crash-landing of our economy), we can confidently give Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton credit for stomping our guts out, economically speaking.

Yes, folks, Wisconsin can proudly lay claim to a more prosperous dairy industry and a far superior pro football team, but our neighbors to the west clearly have a better governor. Far better. Seriously, it’s like comparing Adrian Peterson to Paul Ott Carruth’s grandmother.

Unfortunately, we’re stuck with Walker and his unhealthy decisions for at least another several months. And we have only ourselves to blame.

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