It’s hard to believe that Republicans take the health care debate very seriously when Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) — one of the party’s main spokespeople on Obamacare — doesn’t even know the number of uninsured in his own state. During an appearance on MSNBC ‘s ‘Morning Joe’ on Monday, Johnson sought to dismiss the success of Massachusetts’ reform in lowering the number of uninsured by claiming that the state had most of its people covered before Mitt Romney enacted Romneycare in 2006. He then went on to falsely claim that his home state of Wisconsin enjoys similarly high rates of insurance coverage:
ZEKE EMANUEL: Look at Massachusetts, which does have an individual mandate. Has a market just the way the president’s Affordable Care Act put into place. What has happened to premiums in the individual market there? They have gone down 40 percent compared to a 14 percent increase in the rest of the country.
JOHNSON: Massachusetts already had a very high level of people insured, as does Wisconsin. Wisconsin did not need health care law to get 95 percent of the people insured.
EMANUEL: You do not have 95 percent — you have 89 percent …you don’t have 95 percent. Only in Massachusetts has over 95 percent ….
JOHNSON: In Wisconsin we have 95 percent.
A man who supports the complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act — while personally enjoying tax-payer supported insurance as a U.S. senator — may not be too concerned about how many people actually don’t have insurance in his own state. But according to the latest Census, nine percent of Wisconsinites are uninsured, which means that the insurance rate is at about 91, four points below Johnson’s proclamation (not to mention that 30 percent are insured through government-financed Medicare or Medicaid; 60 percent have employer-based coverage or buy insurance on the individual market).
During the segment Steve Rattner also pointed out that should the Supreme Court strike down the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, 16 to 20 million Americans would lose their health insurance coverage and private health insurance premiums would increase by 15 percent. But here too, Johnson seemed unperturbed, dismissing the estimates by inexplicably claiming that the ACA’s system of private insurers and providers would lead to greater “government control.”