Congresswoman and gubernatorial candidate Noem says she supports Donald Trump, but her extended quote to the press seems to say the opposite:
Noem said she supports Trump following his clarified remarks. She said those looking to speak in hateful terms were better off keeping their comments to themselves.
“Anybody who’s using language to spread hate and fear today should be condemned. We have enough problems in this country with our economy, with our tax code, with our health care that we need everybody at the table,” she said. “If their language is not contributing to finding solutions, then it would be best if they remain silent” [Dana Ferguson, “Noem Criticizes ‘All Involved’ in Charlottesville Violence,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2017.08.14].
Got a question for Congresswoman Kristi Noem? Come to the Brown County Fair on Friday. According to the Aberdeen American News, South Dakota’s lone Representative will be on the fairgrounds sometime Friday along with SDGOP attorney general candidate Jason Ravnsborg.
Noem’s visit may overlap with that of the Democrat who wants to replace her, Tim Bjorkman, who will be at the Brown County Democrats’ excellent fair booth Thursday evening and Friday morning.
Here’s the full roster of scheduled political appearances at the Brown County Fair, as published in today’s Aberdeen American News:
Tuesday: Billie Sutton, Democratic candidate for governor, 5 p.m.
Wednesday: State Auditor Steve Barnett, candidate for secretary of state; Josh Haeder, staffer for Senator Rounds and candidate for state treasurer.
Thursday: Public Utilities Commissioner Chris Nelson.
Friday: U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, Republican candidate for governor; Jason Ravnsborg, candidate for attorney general.
Saturday: Dusty Johnson, candidate for U.S. House; Public Utilities commissioner Kristie Fiegen.
No word on Ravnsborg’s competitors for A.G., Charles McGuigan, John Fitzgerald, and Lance Russell. John Thune, Marty Jackley, and Shantel Krebs tell AAN they are coming but haven’t set times yet.
“I believe the federal EB-5 program has been – and can continue to be – an important tool for economic development, particularly in areas underserved by traditional financing options and I would be open to an inflation increase as long as reforms to improve federal oversight of the program are included,” Rounds said in a statement last week [Bob Mercer, “Several Members of South Dakota’s Delegation Question Continuation of EB-5 Immigrant Visas,” Watertown Public Opinion, 2017.08.11].
Our other two Congress critters say EB-5 kinda works but needs fixing:
U.S. Sen. John Thune said this in a statement last week: “While there are a few examples where investments through the EB-5 program benefited local communities, it’s clear that the program is flawed and, if renewed, is in need of significant reform.”
U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem had this to say in a statement last week: “While the program has been helpful in some parts of the country, I believe it is too often unaccountable and not transparent enough to be renewed as a stand-alone program without reforms” [Mercer, 2017.08.11].
U.S. House candidates Dusty Johnson and Shantel Krebs more forthrightly criticize the core principle of the program, allowing rich foreigners to buy their way into America:
Johnson in a statement said: “I have real concerns with EB-5 as a program, and couldn’t support its continuation ‘as is.’ EB-5 has strayed from its original purpose. As I understand it, the intent of the program was to attract people who wanted to bring their business to America, for example, a dairy farmer from the Netherlands who sells his operation, moves to South Dakota, and invests the proceeds in a dairy operation here.
“At some point, EB-5 evolved into a program that bundled the money of dozens of foreign investors. Unlike the Dutch farmer, these investors weren’t investing to build a business or earn a return. Instead, they were investing to secure a green card, and saw the $500,000 as the price of admission. As a result, quite a number of them invested in projects that were too risky to attract other financing, which led to high-profile bankruptcies of some EB-5 projects.
“I’m not at all convinced that today’s EB-5 program is good for our country. I’m interested in reforms that would return EB-5 to its roots, perhaps by limiting the number of EB-5 investments in a particular project, or by requiring that an EB-5 investor be actively involved in the management or operation of the enterprise.”
He added: “Increasing the minimum investment amount makes a great deal of sense. My preference would be to make that change along with other, more substantial, reforms to the program.”
Krebs in a statement said: “While I certainly support investment in our state and economic development, I have serious concerns about the possibility for abuse of the program as it stands and the potential that foreign investors would be able to buy entry into America. Entry into America is a privilege that must be earned.”
She added: “I fundamentally don’t agree with the program” [links added; Mercer, 2017.08.11].
Kudos to Johnson and Krebs for not adopting the namby-pambiness of the woman they want to replace in Washington on this issue.
Alas, either the fear of acknowledging failure or the general disarray of the White House must be contagious. Yesterday, Senator Thune held three public meetings in northwestern South Dakota. Yet the Rapid City Journalgave at best four hours notice of the event in Buffalo, six of the event in Bison, and seven of the event in Lemmon.
What the heck, John? Are you worried North Korea is going to target your coffee klatsch with an ICBM?
Well, at least Senator Thune let the locals know he was coming.
The goal should be to get people off of Medicaid. The goal should be to get people in jobs and working and raise their incomes so they can have their own insurance plans, and that’s really what the bill that I voted for does [Rep. Kristi Noem, transcribed from audio, “Noem Says People Did Not Get All the Facts on ACA Repeal,” Hub City Radio, 2017.07.31].
All hail Kevin Woster and South Dakota Public Broadcasting for their defense of long-form blogging! Woster cranks out over 2,600 words of the most thorough description of Rep. Kristi Noem’s contentious July 5 Rapid City town hall, burying the lede, weaving direct reporting with cultural observations and political critique, and SDPB lets the whole thing on their website. Ah, the Internet and public media, freeing Woster and all of us of the constraints of ink, paper, and commercial breaks for Sanford.)
Permit me to spotlight just one of Woster’s observations about Noem town hall. Evidently someone lied to Woster about restrictions on press accommodations at the event:
Reporters for TV, newspaper and public radio were squeezed into a spot along the wall 20 or 30 feet from Noem. I complained about that to Noem staffers, who said it was a Pennington County Sheriff’s Office mandate. I then complained to Pennington County Sheriff’s Office deputies, who said Noem staffers wanted the restriction.
Who penned the press? Noem says it was the sheriff; the sheriff says it was Noem. Both can’t be true, so someone was fibbing. Whoever those fibsters are, those public officials need to figure out that it’s not a good idea to fib to folks like Woster who have pens and cameras and websites where they can publish 2,600 words and much more.
“We used to have 17 health insurance companies in South Dakota. We have two today,” Noem said, adding that, “We are a year or two away from having government run health care.”
In reaction to Noem’s apparent reference to a universal, or single-payer, health care system, many in the audience erupted in loud cheers and thunderous applause.
“And that probably answers a lot of people’s questions,” Noem said as the clapping died down. “Because you know that I am not in favor of government-run health care. We’re probably going to fundamentally disagree on that” [Mike Anderson, “Noem Faces Heat over Health Care Bill,” Rapid City Journal, 2017.07.05].
Questioned by a newly registered voter with diabetes about how she in her conscience could vote for a bill that would (Anderson’s words) “endanger coverage for people with pre-existing conditions,” Rep. Noem maintained the convenient dodge that (her words), “The bill that I voted for does not allow an insurance company to deny you for pre-existing conditions.” Technically true, but practically false—the state waivers in Noem’s bill would make it possible for insurers to price people with pre-existing conditions out of their product:
States may submit waivers to Washington to get out of complying with two elements of Obamacare that are preserved in the letter of the AHCA: essential health benefits, and community rating.
The essential health benefits provision, under Obamacare, requires insurers to cover 10 benefits, from prescription drugs to prenatal care, in any health care plan they offer. Community rating is a provision that prohibits insurers from charging any person more based on their individual health status — important if you have a pre-existing condition.
…If a state no longer makes insurers provide basic coverage for prescription drugs for someone with a chronic condition like HIV/AIDS, for example, a patient’s out-of-pocket cost would substantially rise, and reduce the insurer’s risk.
That, critics say, effectively makes any condition requiring treatment with prescription drugs a pre-existing condition that could make the cost of obtaining insurance prohibitively high.
…the premium hikes for people with pre-existing conditions could be much higher under the proposed law. That’s because, aside from the 30 percent penalty, people who had allowed their coverage to lapse might no longer be eligible for premiums based on community rating, but instead could be assessed premiums based on “health status” — meaning insurance companies could charge sick people much higher premiums than their healthy peers in the same age group [Sam Brodey, “Does the Health Care Bill the House Passed Maintain Protection for People with Pre-Existing Conditions, or Not?” MinnPost, 2017.05.11].
Noem also claimed that “We have a 124 percent policy premium increase that has happened in South Dakota since Obamacare was signed into law.” That’s the same figure Senators John Thune and M. Michael Rounds assert to divert our attention from their predations on our health care. The figure comes from a May 2017 report from the Trump DHHS and refers to premiums on the individual market from 2013 to 2017. But that report says its calculations “do not take into account premium tax credits” provided by the Affordable Care Act. This Washington Post fact check points out that those tax credits, which 80% of individual marketplace enrollees receive, mean many policyholders have seen steady or declining net premium costs. In Alaska, a state where Trump misquoted his own DHHS figures on a 203% increase in premiums, ACA tax credits have dropped the net premium cost for 86% of Alaskans in the exchanges to $93 a month, compared to $344 for individual market coverage in 2013.
…and consumers are getting better coverage for their dollar:
According to our analysis, average premiums for the second-lowest cost silver-level (SLS) marketplace plan in 2014, which serves as a benchmark for ACA subsidies, were between 10 and 21 percent lower than average individual market premiums in 2013, before the ACA, even while providing enrollees with significantly richer coverage and a broader set of benefits. Silver-level ACA plans cover roughly 17 percent more of an enrollee’s health expenses than pre-ACA plans did, on average. In essence, then, consumers received more coverage at a lower price [Loren Adler and Paul B. Ginsburg, “Obamacare Premiums Are Lower Than You Think,” Health Affairs Blog, 2016.07.21].
It would be nice if we could count on a town hall with our lone Representative in the U.S. House for some useful facts. The only useful fact we got from yesterday’s Rapid City town hall is that Kristi Noem can’t tell the truth about health insurance and her vote to take it away from thousands of South Dakotans.
Federal law requires drugmakers to give the VA a 24% discount of the top, from which discount VA officials can negotiate for even lower prices. Applied to state drug purchases, this measure would affect Medicaid recipients, inmates, state employees, and others receiving health benefits directly from the state. In the debate over a similar measure, Proposition 61, on California’s ballot last year, opponents claimed this drug price cap would affect only 12% of state residents, while proponents claimed the measure would directly affect up to 19% of state residents. Of course, every taxpayer benefits from reduced state spending on any line item.
The initiative includes an interesting and potentially illegal provision deeming the sponsors of this initiative to have “a direct and personal state in defending this Act from constitutional and other challenges” in court. I understand the intent—Samuelson is clearly looking at last year’s court fight over Initiated Measure 22 and trying to ensure that his ballot question committee can use its resources to directly fight for its ballot measure in court, if it passes muster with the voters. However, it seems that such an explicit granting of legal standing could run afoul of our state constitution’s Article 3 Section 23(9) prohibition on “Granting to an individual, association or corporation any special or exclusive privilege, immunity or franchise whatever.”
Also of legal interest is Section 5 of the draft initiative, which specifies an effective date of the prescription drug cap of July 1, 2019. LRC points out in its drafting recommendations that this provision is unnecessary, since 2017 Senate Bill 59, now written into SDCL 2-1-12, already sets the enactment date of approved ballot measures as July 1 following the election. As written, Section 5 is superfluous, but it raises the question of what happens if Samuelson comes back with a revised enactment date that differs from July 1. The Legislature fixed July 1 as the initiative enactment date instead of the previous law allowing ballot measures to come into effect as soon as the vote was officially canvassed to give themselves more time to sabotage popular initiatives that they don’t like. Since that later enactment date is just a law, it seems Samuelson and other initiators are free to propose alternative enactment dates with a simple “notwithstanding.” I would love to see Samuelson poke that legal bear and propose an enactment date of January 1, 2019… but I suppose there are complications to requiring new negotiations for drug prices in the middle of a fiscal year.
Prescription drugs make up about 10% of our health care spending. How much of that spending in South Dakota comes from state agency purchases of prescription drugs is a good question, but reducing the amount we taxpayers directly pay to obtain drugs for state health programs certainly seems a more direct and more moral way to reduce health care costs than limiting the amount of money that people who’ve been harmed by bad medicine can receive in damages from erring health care providers.
LRC issued its draft recommendations on June 23. If Samuelson turned his draft around over that weekend and got his revisions to the Attorney General by June 26, then the A.G. has until August 25 to review the measure and issue is explanation. That would put petitions in Samuelson’s hands to circulate just barely in time for the State Fair and with eleven weeks total to gather the necessary 13,871 signatures to put this prescription drug cap on the November 2018 ballot.
*Update 2017.07.01 13:22 CDT: The original notice I received said the Noem town hall would start at 10 a.m.; eager reader Susan below reports the time has been changed to 9:30 a.m. Arrive early, get a good seat!