Wednesday, June 11, 2014

O . . . M . . . G . . . The State Of South Dakota Is Telling State Retirees To Check Out WWW.Healthcare.Gov. Really. This is Happening.

      Oh, that Cory Heidelberger over at Madville Times.  He's still the best.  This morning he found a recent communication from the State of South Dakota Health Plan to state retirees.  It comes on the heels of SDHP's announcement that retirees would soon be facing a two-stage hike in their premiums, beginning January 1.  Increases will range from 18% to 40%--quite the bite for any retiree.
     To soften the blow, an April 11, 2014, letter was sent from the plan to State of South Dakota retirees making this suggestion:  "...While we are happy for you to remain on the state health plan if that is the best option for you and your family, we encourage you to compare the state rates and plan offerings to options available from the private market or the Health Insurance Marketplace.
...Specifically, families with incomes below 400% of the federal poverty rate are eligible for a subsidy through the Health Insurance Marketplace which may  be financially advantageous as compared to the state health plan retiree rates. To learn more about the Health Insurance Marketplace, visit or visit with a trusted insurance agent [Laurie Gill, Commissioner, Bureau of Human Resources, letter to state health plan beneficiary, April 11, 2014, p. 2]."  Based on federal guidelines, I'm sure that a huge majority of SD State retirees fall into the 400% window of eligibility set forth in Commissioner Gill's letter.                                                                           Considering that the entire deal is made possible by the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, you'd have to wonder why Congresswoman Kristi Noem finds ACA despicable enough to vote for its repeal (54 times at last count).  Republican Senatorial hopeful Mike Rounds has made ACA repeal a cornerstone of his campaign, and Governor Dennis Daugaard repeatedly refuses to accept ACA's multibillion dollar offer of expanded Medicaid funding and services, so profoundly does he distrust the whole concept of ACA.  Daugaard is so skeptical of ACA's sustainability that his oft-cited rejection of its offer is that he isn't sure the federal government can come up with the funds to support Medicaid expansion a few years down the road.  How he comes up with that notion remains a mystery, considering all the other federal funds we happily accept without questioning their financial sustainability in the future.                  Meantime, this politically-driven scorn for Obamacare overlooks the fact that a South Dakota state agency is promoting the use of the ACA-created marketplace as a source of insurance for state retirees.  Actually, this strikes me as something more profound than cognitive dissonance.   Everything considered, it seems to me that a certain political schizophrenia has set in.  How does Kristi Noem explain to the state retirees that she represents in Congress that she's dead set on repealing the very vehicle that makes it possible for them to get a much better deal on their health insurance, per the State of South Dakota official who's in charge of such things?  Meantime, are retirees supposed to rally round Mike Rounds now that he wants to join those who would take that deal away from them?  As to Governor Daugaard, what does he tell current state employees about his reluctance to deal with ACA-sponsored programs when it looks like they'll eventually be turning to options created by ACA itself.  Does he say "stay away, the system might go broke?"  I think not.
     The anti-ACA meme is getting harder and harder for South Dakota's leading Republicans to sustain.  A few days ago I noted that Wellmark, South Dakota's Blue Cross Blue Shield provider, is joinng the ACA-created insurance exchanges because, like so many other companies doing the same thing, it sees money to be made in a program that's likely to remain a fixture of American life.  Now comes this news that the South Dakota Health Plan is leaning on ACA as a way of getting better deals for state retirees.  South Dakota GOP leaders are painting themselves into a tight little corner on this issue, so much so that their intransigence, which they probably think, delusionally, passes for political determination, is beginning to take on the look of plain old-fashioned foolishness.  




  1. Wow John, As I asked on a blog prior to the Primary elections, how do they spell hypocricy or is it hypocrisy or would the Native American word for it be "forked tongue"? We as citizens have to keep the pressure on. I will cut and past your article and send it on, along with the website address.

    1. Thanks Lanny. Bottom line is that the SD retirement system administrators have enough confidence in the ACA-developed opportunity to put it out there for retirees to use. That action speaks way louder than any politician's words.

  2. Unbelievable... shame on our Governor and Senator Noem... people are hurtung... when will this end...? When people vote with their hearts (IF THEY'RE STILL BEAR ING THAT IS ( along with their brains, if we gave any left! Ugh...