You may be aware that a week ago last Monday, the House State Affairs Committee in the South Dakota Legislature defeated, on a 9-2 vote, HB1244. This bill would have disallowed the State of South Dakota from participating in the Federal Medicaid portion of the Affordable Healthcare Act. This, of course, is a win for anyone who is interested in bringing down the cost of healthcare for everyone. But it is just the first step.
Friday morning, Feb 15 at 7:30 AM, the same committee will take up HB1205. This would bring South Dakota in line with the Federal program, just as some of the states that previously opposed it have now changed their minds and see the benefit of having everyone covered by some sort of healthcare program. Here in South Dakota, this bill would cover about 35 to 40 thousand folks who are above the official federal poverty level but don’t earn enough to afford healthcare coverage either for themselves or for their families, and who don’t work for an employer who provides healthcare
At the risk of being redundant, I will repeat how that affects all of us. Those who are not covered by any form of healthcare, will not see the doctor on a regular basis or even when they are sick. Then, when they become seriously or even deathly sick, they will go to the emergency room for their healthcare. This of course adds to the cost of their healthcare many times more than they would have had to pay if they went to the doctor on a regular basis. Then because they cannot afford to pay for their bill with the doctor or the hospital, the bill gets written off, but those costs are not eaten by the provider. The provider then raises the cost of healthcare to the rest of us who are covered. It’s a “you can pay me now or pay me later” type of situation.
If passed, the majority of the cost of that State-provided Medicaid would be paid by the Federal Government for the first three years, so the State of South Dakota would get a chance to see if in fact it did bring down the cost of healthcare overall. I am asking for support of HB1205 by the House State Affairs Committee, and your support would be appreciated.
I will be sending the above message to each member of the committee and would ask, if you do believe this would bring down the cost of healthcare in South Dakota, that you contact the members of the committee and if it passes in committee that you would contact your own legislator and any others you know.
Let’s make this happen!
–Lanny Stricherz lives in Sioux Falls and is a longtime friend of the SD Peace & Justice Center