Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Thune Pushes Healthcare Repeal, Has No Clue About How South Dakota Will Deal With It

     Is South Dakota's all-Republican congressional delegation collectively catatonic when it comes to its political infatuation with all things Trump?  Congresswoman Noem was effusive
Thune Explains, We Decide
Will Trump Call It "Mean?"
about her support for a Trump-instigated healthcare bill that passed the house ("a very significant day for me," crowed Noem) last May, only to be backstabbed when it was dissed a few weeks ago by the President himself, who called it "mean" when he touted the Senate's version of the bill.  Trump's blow-off of Noem's pride and joy should be a lesson to our federal reps that they're tools to be used--and potentially tossed aside--when politically convenient to the President.  

     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.  


  1. I registered a pro forma request that both senators cast a negative ballot. I shall warrant I don't expect either of those worthies to consider the manifold needs of their constituents, but hope springs eternal.

  2. John, You quoted the senior Senator, Thune claims to have "listened to South Dakotans who've shared their personal Obamacare experiences,"

    You certainly shouldn't be surprised by what he said, because the South Dakotans to whom he speaks are primarily the one percenters. And after all he like Noem and Rounds are just doing what we the people want because we keep electing them.

  3. Thune has no answer to the simple question, "after Gear Up and EB-5, why should we trust Governor Daugaard and our state legislature with a big block grant of federal [supposedly for Medicaid] dollars?" Answer comes there none.

  4. I contacted our three representatives and received one reply.

    Dear Scott:

    Thank you for contacting me about health care reform. I appreciate hearing from you.

    As you know, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010. Since then, the American people have been able to evaluate the impact of this law. Among other things, Americans were promised that they could keep the doctor and health plan they liked and that health insurance premiums would decrease. However, contrary to these promises, millions of people lost health insurance plans that they liked, and others discovered that they could no longer see the doctor of their choice. Today, premiums on the exchanges are soaring, insurance markets are struggling to stay afloat, and patients’ choices are dwindling.

    The American Health Care Act of 2017 (H.R. 1628) was introduced in the House of Representatives on March 20, 2017. If enacted, this legislation would repeal portions of the ACA and make a number of reforms to the health care system. This legislation passed the House on May 4, 2017, and now awaits further consideration by the Senate.

    I am committed to advancing common-sense, personalized, patient-centered health care solutions. We need to focus on solutions that will help make health care more affordable for all Americans, like allowing small businesses and self-employed individuals to pool together to purchase insurance and reforming regulations to increase choice and competition in the health insurance market.

    As Congress considers this issue, I will be sure to keep your concerns in mind. If you would like additional information on my activities in the Senate, please feel free to visit my website, http://www.thune.senate.gov. You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@SenJohnThune). Thanks again for contacting me. Please keep in touch.

    Kindest regards,

    United States Senator

    Notice that the words South Dakota are no where to be seen. Guessing he's made the transition to representing only the Republican Party. Standing behind Mitch, he's developed a classic SD ranches's scowl. Wonder if it is caused by lunch or Party policies.

  5. Ed Kilgore (NY Magazine) is reporting that Senator Rounds has joined Senator Collins (R,ME) in questioning why the GOP health bill should include "the repeal of a 3.8 percent surcharge on investment earnings.."

    1. Interesting. I imagine that from his perspective as a former governor, Rounds can see the hole in South Dakota's budget that would occur if Medicaid funding from the federal government gets sliced significantly.

    2. Alternatively, he could be telling Senator McConnell that his vote comes with a price to be determined later.