Thursday, March 16, 2017

Thune Figures It Out: Older South Dakotans Will Get Creamed By Trump/Ryan/Whoever-Care. Do Noem and Rounds Have A Clue?

Senior Senator
Senator For Seniors
     Our senior U.S. Senator, Republican John Thune, begged off on supporting the Obamacare replacement bill oozing out of the political entrails of a befuddled House of Representatives today. Thune told The Rapid City Journal that he and the rest of the Senate could work on a plan that would be "more helpful to people on the lower end."  Good idea, since it's the lower end where many oldsters in South Dakota will be feeling the most acute financial pain if this over-hyped and under-considered fiasco of a replacement bill ever becomes law.
     Disheartening as it is, our all-Republican congressional delegation has spent years dissing the Affordable Care Act and voting countless times in a wasted political show of disdain to end it--and all that time these reflexive partisan yes-people haven't had a clue as to what a replacement would look like.  Now that the House of Representatives--in a show of fealty to President Trump and his reckless promise to repeal and replace ACA immediately upon taking office--has hurriedly trotted out a poorly conceived and politically poisonous replacement, our elected reps are forced to pay attention to the details of healthcare policy.  
     Not much has been heard from Senator Rounds or Congresswoman Noem, who've long been part of the GOP chorus determined to undo ACA with nary an afterthought about what would occur next.  No surprise there, as neither has been much of a distinguishing force in Congress. Thanks to seniority, Thune has advanced far enough in party leadership to grab some attention now and then, though his lock-step voting behavior has been predictably partisan.  That he has some public reservations about the bill says much for the growing GOP hostility toward a replacement of its own party's creation.  An overhaul is likely now that enough recalcitrant Pubs in both houses may
Rounds, Noem
Opinion, Please?
be likely to sink this ship before it's even christened.  

     That should be welcome news to aging South Dakotans.  A study of the replacement bill by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that it would raise health insurance costs for lower- and middle-income 60-year-olds on average by $3,000/year. Considering the rapid growth of the aging population of our state (South Dakota State University calls it a "dramatic increase"), our nearly 200,000 residents aged between mid-40s and mid-60s stand to get financially hammered as the years go by if the GOP plan goes into effect.  That's the aging group that probably most needs health insurance, just at a time when they're most likely to develop penny-watching retirement plans and budgets.


  1. John,
    Do you think John Thune will express these same sentiments about the recently released Trump budget that will eliminate many of the programs to elderly and handicapped?

  2. I would ask our Congressional trio how those cuts help Make America Great Again.

  3. Oh, but they're Making America Great Again by dismantling the Federal Government, don'tcha know? (Please, please tell me you heard my sarcasm there....)

    The idea seems to be to turn it over to the states -- and we've seen how much the state cares about lower income people. They won't accept the Medicaid expansion or exempt food from sales tax.

    As I understand it, only the states that had already expanded Medicaid would continue to qualify for some of those funds in the future; states like ours that had so far opted out of the expansion would be barred from accepting it going forward. South Dakota would have missed the boat on that one.

    The current version of Trump/Ryancare also wants to block grant Medicaid funds, which would essentially cap them, no matter how many people in the state qualify to receive help. If the bottom falls out of the economy, whether it's for a single state when their primary industries fail (think of the rust belt, or coal mining in Kentucky) or for the nation as a whole (as in the housing and bank crisis in 2008, a state could have a sharp rise in people qualifying for Medicaid with no corresponding rise in the money allotted for this because of the block grant system, if I understand this correctly.

    1. I imagine the generally wealthier blue states will be able to handle the extra burdens shifted to them by Trump's budget than the generally poorer red, rural states like South Dakota. Ironic.

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