Thursday, June 30, 2011

Walker's Health Chief Kills Grant Application To Improve Health "Stuff"

This is what you get, reports the Journal Sentinel, when you turn over the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to a right-wing Visiting Fellow from the Heritage Foundation named Dennis Smith:

The state is blocking plans by the Milwaukee Health Department and University Health Services in Madison to apply for federal grants that would provide about $27.5 million for health programs designed to promote healthier lifestyles and reduce chronic diseases such as diabetes.
You don't get life-saving, science-driven smoking cessation, diabetes prevention and anti-obesity efforts.

You get ideology.

Gov. Walker and Smith don't want to have anything to do with federal health policy and reforms emanating from Washington (read: credit to Obama), even though Wisconsin rates poorly on some lifestyle and survivability indices and preventative health-care extends life while saving money in the longer-run..

To Smith, who's been in Wisconsin for six months, it's all bothersome stuff.
"Why are we asking for taxpayers' money for stuff that we are already doing?" he asked. "How long have people been doing tobacco cessation, for heaven's sake? This is stuff that goes on all the time."
Smith's departmental website suggests that the smoking cessation stuff in Wisconsin still has a ways to go: 
Nearly 7,000 people die annually from illnesses directly related to smoking and approximately 751 die from illnesses and fires indirectly related to smoking, for a total of 7,717 annual deaths in Wisconsin. Tobacco use also costs Wisconsin approximately $4.5 billion annually in health care expenses and lost productivity. This website provides information and links to tobacco use prevention and tobacco addiction treatment resources in Wisconsin.
So I guess we're doing a heckuva job addressing the other stuff, right, Dennis?

Again, Smith is contradicted by his own department's posting

More information, touting prevention, based on programs run by taken Smith's department:
Diabetes is a costly, complex, and devastating chronic illness that poses a major public health problem. It is the seventh leading cause of death in Wisconsin. Annually, diabetes costs Wisconsin adults an estimated $5.26 billion in health care costs and lost productivity. 
Each year, more than 1,200 Wisconsin residents die from diabetes and many more suffer disabling complications, such as heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, and amputations. This burden is higher among minority populations.  Much of the health and economic burden of diabetes can be averted through known prevention measures.
Adds The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Roughly one in four Wisconsin residents are obese, according to a report last year from the Trust for America's Health - a nonprofit organization that focuses on disease prevention - and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The state also has the nation's highest rate of obesity - 44% - for adult African-Americans, according to the study. Mississippi had the second-highest rate.
In January, I wrote that Walker's choice of Smith was "troubling."

Sorry for having understated it.

A paper of his that Heritage posted last year calls "Obamacare" a "power grab."

From the abstract:
The enormous expansion of federal power that will result from “Obamacare” will have far-reaching effects on the traditional roles and authority of states—and on the freedoms of American citizens. When governors and state legislators realize that they have been reduced to mere tax collectors for the federal government, bipartisan opposition from the states will be inevitable.
As I said, turn over policy-making to these folks and you get ideology.

While we're chewing on that, feel free to have a cigarette.

Go ahead and supersize that soft drink and cheeseburger, 'cuz no one from the UW or the Milwaukee Health Department is gonna get all Nanny State in your stuff.


enoughalready said...

Again, Walker's recall cannot come soon enough!

(You can still sign the pledge to recall Scott Walker at

gnarlytrombone said...

A paper of his that Heritage posted last year calls "Obamacare" a "power grab."

Ironic, considering it was Heritage economists who invented ObamaRomneyCare.

Paul Trotter said...

Smith said, "I asked folks, Don't we already do this?"
Tell me Smith- did you ask the FOLKS in Milwaukee. Sounds like a Darling move. Make a decision without getting adequate input.

JB said...

"Input? We don't need no input! We know it all, we learned it at the Koch seminar in Vail, and at the Heritage Foundation."

And they complain about the size of the Medicaid portion of the budget. I guess none of these Republican "policymakers" (policy takers?) ever learned that old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

MacGruber said...

"Gov. Walker's flunky rejects $27.5 Million in federal aid for health care."

That might gather national attention.

At the same time hundreds of teachers fired due to slashed state funding.

The Governor and his 'czars' are deliberately depressing the economy - of Democrat voters that is, not wealthy business owners.

The Wisconsin Hypothesis said...

That would be a misleading headline. There's no need to generalize "programs designed to promote healthier lifestyles" as "health care."

Guantes De Latex said...

Well i believe health is a serious issue and it should be tackled in a fair manner.

KristinSz said...

Thanks for circulating the info about Dennis Smith's Heritage pedigree. If it weren't for Heritage, WPRI, and ALEC, Walker doesn't actually have to come u with his own ideas....