WASHINGTON -- Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has long attributed his inspiration for entering Washington politics to a mission of repealing the Affordable Care Act. A common thread in the tea party-backed senator's calls for repeal is a story involving a reconstructive heart surgery that saved his infant daughter’s life 30 years ago, during the freer health system before Obamacare.
But the doctor Johnson credits with the lifesaving heart surgery seems to disagree, according to progressive news blog Uppity Wisconsin.
In numerous speeches and op-eds, Johnson claimed the work of Dr. John Foker would not have been possible under the Affordable Care Act and its stifling regulations. If his family had lacked the freedom to access doctors qualified to reconstruct his daughter’s heart, Johnson argued, his baby wouldn’t have survived.
In a 2012 interview with CNS News, Johnson said:
I would not have run for the U.S. Senate had Obamacare not been passed. … Our story has a happy ending because we had that freedom. … That’s what this health care law is all about, it’s an assault on our freedom. It’s going to lower the quality of our care. It’s going to lead to rationing. The types of medical innovation that saved my daughter’s life [and] that saves millions of Americans -- I won't say it’s going to come to a grinding halt, but it’s going to be severely limited.
According to Uppity, however, Foker is not only “generally supportive” of the Affordable Care Act, but contends that President Barack Obama’s landmark health care law does not go far enough.
"Unfortunately, it was written by the insurance and drug companies, so not great,” Foker told Uppity via email. “Most of the many flaws of American medical care are still present."
Foker argued that Republican lawmakers should relish the ACA’s “private-solution” approach to health care reform as he criticized the GOP for obstructionist political tactics. “They’re never happy,” Foker concluded.
Contrary to Johnson’s fears, Foker was, and remains, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s medical school -- a public institution -- and performed the lifesaving surgery on Johnson’s daughter at the government-funded university’s medical center.
Moreover, the innovative procedure that Johnson credits for saving his daughter’s life was not developed as the “wonderful result” of health law “freedom,” but was first performed in the more socialized health systems of Brazil and France, as pointed out by Think Progress' Igor Volsky.
On Monday, Johnson announced a lawsuit seeking to exclude members of Congress and their employees from qualifying for employer-sponsored health insurance, arguing that it is unconstitutional for the Obama administration to force him to decide which staff can keep federal contributions to their plans.
(h/t Uppity Wisconsin)