Set aside partisan politics for a moment and examine the perils of installing ideologues like the shrink-government, former Heritage Foundation Fellow Dennis Smith as Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
Extensive public and behind-the-scenes pressure forced Smith, and his boss Gov. Walker, to stop withholding a crucial endorsement for a federal grant for state partners to fight obesity, diabetes and other life-styles diseases in Milwaukee and Madison - - where the need for prevention, especially among low-income people in Wisconsin, is so compelling that web pages posted by Smith's own department graphically outline the need.
Smith's objections were ideological: no 'Obamacare,' federal funding wanted, meaning a belief structure was to take precedence over preventing life-and-death health problems that are on the increase in the state.
The self-defeating approach is reminiscent of Walker's rejection of $800 million in high-speed rail Federal funds six months ago - - followed by this week's remedial legislative action to approve state spending for about $30 million worth of rail improvements that the $800 would have covered.
Ideology is hardly the way to run a railroad, or a health department for that matter.
Now turn your attention to a recent story by Karen Herzog in the Journal Sentinel about the loss of nursing services in Milwaukee Public Schools, (MPS).
I had given it a brief mention, but want to expand the context and keep the discussion going.
After explaining why nursing services are shrinking, Herzog's final paragraphs have some stunning statistics - - so read along - - and remember that Gov. Walker and Dennis Smith had to be dragooned and guilt-tripped into supporting the receipt of federal funds to help prevent more of the very illnesses that are striking large numbers of children.
The reality of the situation compared to the initial approach by Walker and Smith underscore their disconnect, which is particularly shocking given Walker's decades in Wauwatosa just blocks from MPS schools.
"We're doing our absolute best, trying to give almost every school some nursing," [Ann Riojas of MPS] said. "Some may only get half a day."
Coverage will be determined by enrollment, the number of students with diabetes, asthma, feeding tubes or catheters, and poverty level, she said.
During the school year that ended last month, school nurses received 164,000 visits from students who either needed first aid or experienced sudden illness, Riojas said.
"We also gave an enormous number of children an enormous amount of medication," she said: 94,585 doses to 786 kids.
Add to that 13,467 doses of insulin, 20,000 blood sugar tests, 13,218 feedings, and nearly 11,000 metered inhaler doses for asthma, all either administered or supervised.