This week marks the 12th anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Thanks to this landmark law passed by Democrats, roughly 900,000 Wisconsinites are able to afford health care and cannot be discriminated against for having preexisting conditions.
I thought we had finally gotten to a point where major efforts to repeal this transformative law were over. Then, just this month, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson announced that the Republican Party would once again prioritize repealing the ACA if they should win control of Congress in 2022, stripping health care away from millions and raising costs on the rest of us.
This is dangerous, misguided and only hurts Wisconsinites and Americans everywhere — it does us absolutely no good. Yet Johnson, who first ran for the Senate in 2010 on a pledge that he would do everything in his power to repeal the Affordable Care Act, is once again making this a top priority if he wins reelection.
Johnson has built much of his career in the Senate on attempts to repeal the ACA. Despite his best efforts Johnson has, in his own words, been “particularly unsuccessful” because he hasn’t been able to deliver on this dangerous promise — but that’s not for a lack of trying.
In addition to taking dozens of votes to repeal the ACA, Johnson joined a malicious lawsuit that asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the law, which they would not do. Then came that terrifying moment at the end of 2017 when it seemed like the Republicans, who controlled every branch of government, were finally going to be successful at taking down the ACA. During this time, Johnson led the charge on the repeal process, even specifically targeting the rule that prevented insurance companies from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions.
When Johnson was given the opportunity to stand up for the people of Wisconsin, he failed. Instead, he cast the deciding vote to move the full repeal of the ACA to the floor of the Senate. Health care for millions of Americans was only spared because of the heroics of the late Sen. John McCain, who saw that the faux “replacement” plan that Johnson was pushing for would completely upend our health care system, particularly for people with pre-existing conditions who would lose the protections they received under the ACA.
The fact is, Johnson doesn’t believe every Wisconsinite should have quality, affordable health care. Rather, his actions belie his opinion that health care is a “privilege” for only those who can afford it. He wants to roll the clock back to a time when getting pregnant could be considered a preexisting condition, or when insurance companies could cap how much they would pay for medicines and procedures. He wants to raise health care costs and keep Democrats from lowering the price of common, costly, lifesaving drugs like insulin.
And the contrast could not be more clear: Democrats, led by President Biden, have been laser-focused on finding ways to protect health insurance, expand the ACA and lower costs for working families. Biden has proposed capping the cost of insulin at $35 a month. Democrats in Congress have been championing legislation like the No Surprises Act, which prevents hospitals and doctors from sending patients surprise medical bills in the event of emergencies. Every Wisconsin Democrat voted for the American Rescue Plan, which lowered health care costs for 212,000 Wisconsinites. Unsurprisingly, in a brazen display of partisanship, Johnson voted against both pieces of critical legislation — against the people of Wisconsin.
Whether you’re a Democrat, independent, or Republican, it is clear that Johnson is not looking out for your best interests. He has spent his time in Washington trying to rip health care away from you while working overtime to enrich himself and his wealthy donors. Now he wants to raise your taxes and increase insurance premiums, selling out to Big Pharma and the country’s largest corporations to pay for his self-serving agenda.
It’s time that all of us recognize the danger that Sen. Ron Johnson poses to the people of our state. Let’s send him packing in November.