Governor Dennis Daugaard is not giving up on Medicaid expansion, but he’s missing an obvious avenue for increasing the chances of passing the plan: helping Democrats win in November.
Governor Daugaard is hitting the media pretty hard this week with pro-expansion talk. On KELO Radio Monday, the Governor told Greg Belfrage he thinks the Senate will be more conservative after the election but the House will be less conservative.
I remind the Governor that several of us Democrats are working to make the Senate and the House less conservative and more practical. If the Governor wants to provide affordable health coverage for 50,000 South Dakotans, lower health care costs for everyone in South Dakota, bring in hundreds of millions in federal stimulus dollars in the form of health care spending, and create thousands of jobs, and if his cranky conservative party members are unwilling to take that entirely sensible step, the South Dakotans who stand to benefit from Medicaid expansion probably would not hold it against the Governor if he decided to help Democrats replace a passel of Republican legislators who are putting partisan politics above the public interest. Besides, Governor Daugaard supposedly ran his last campaign in 2014. He won’t appear on a ballot again; he is in the perfect position to do the right thing, partisan interests be darned.
If actively supporting Democrats is too high a hill to climb for our Governor, he can take a compromise position and simply decline to support Republican legislative candidates who refuse to sign on to Medicaid expansion. Don’t write me a campaign check, Dennis, but don’t write speciously squishy Al Novstrup a check, either. Let Medicaid holdouts stand on their own and defend their refusal to help South Dakota on their own dime.
Related: Lt. Gov. Matt Michels told WNAX Monday that there is some logic to waiting to see what changes may happen at the national level in the November elections that might affect the Affordable Care Act that makes Medicaid expansion possible. But with Bernie Sanders coming squarely behind Hillary Clinton and thus guaranteeing that her nine-point lead over the Republican nominee will go nowhere but up and probably bring more U.S. Senate and House seats along with her, it should be clear that the ACA and Medicaid expansion are here to stay.