|Thune Explains, We Decide|
Will Trump Call It "Mean?"
So now that the Senate's version of a healthcare bill has finally been flushed out and exposed to the light of analysis, how does our Senator Thune project his political commitment to President Trump's demand for an overhaul in the law? With the same unabashed and uncritical exercise in rhetorical Trumphuggery that Noem applied to her version. Thune claims to have "listened to South Dakotans who've shared their personal Obamacare experiences," a useful exercise but apparently tilted toward listening only to those who've had genuine problems with it. We all get that insurance premiums and deductibles have got to be reined in, but Thune's contention that this Senate bill ("The American Healthcare Act") will "provide better, more affordable healthcare for all South Dakotans," just does not square with reality. In an NPR interview last week, Thune acknowledges that Medicaid cuts in the Senate bill will require states to come up with alternative plans to care for their poor populations. If Thune could come up with a plan for our rural state I'd be more likely to take his projection seriously, but for now, consider that in its minority report, Senate Democrats conclude that the long term cuts in Medicaid "will hurt rural hospitals" by "cutting premium assistance." That conclusion was supported by Roll Call last week when it noted that rural areas are bracing for the bill's impact and provides a rundown of GOP senators from states with large swaths of rural area who have serious concerns about Medicaid cuts to their constituents.
Thune's confidence that rural states can work things out internally isn't particularly convincing, lacking as it does any ideas on how South Dakota can go about it. In 2014, Medicaid accounted for 20% of South Dakota's total expenditures. with nearly 60% of the money in recent years coming from the federal government. Did Thune consult with South Dakota's government leadership on just how things are supposed to work out? I doubt it. Blindly supporting Trump demands fealty, not independent thought and analysis. Until our Congressional tag-team comes up with some ideas on how South Dakota is supposed to deal with potentially crippling cuts in Medicaid, this whole idea of Obamacare repeal/replace should be set aside, if not junked altogether.