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South Dakotan Receives Robocall Push Poll Against Medicaid Expansion

An eager reader reports that someone is robocalling against Medicaid expansion in South Dakota:

All of the questions began “would you be more likely, [less likely] to support expanding Medicaid if you knew that…”

  1. “You knew that 60% of beneficiaries are able-bodied adults with no children”
  2. “You knew that taxes would increase to support the Medicaid expansion”
  3. “You knew that Congress would pass a bill outlawing Obamacare in 2017”
  4. “You knew that beneficiaries would be taken off private health insurance rolls at taxpayer expense” [DFP reader e-mail, 2015.12.29].

Has anyone else received a push-poll call like this? And would anyone else like to finger the Koch Brother’s South Dakota branch of Americans for Prosperity?

The robocall’s first point is misdirection: as I reported earlier this month, 61% of Americans in the coverage gap are in families with a working adult, and at least half are working. And we support families and workers, right?

The robocall’s second point is straight bunk: South Dakota’s plan could result in $158 million in state tax relief over five years and $10 million annually after that. And AFP likes anything that could lower taxes, right?

The robocall’s third point is wishful bunk: the Affordable Care Act is law and will stay that way, because we will elect a Democratic President next year and because Donald Trump will cause Republicans to lose seats in Congress.

The robocall’s fourth point is another distraction: at least 13,000 of those getting coverage in South Dakota’s Medicaid expansion have no insurance right now. Insuring those people reduces our costs by relieving hospitals of millions of dollars in uncompensated care. As for anybody helped by the expansion to move from private coverage to public coverage, they’ll get better coverage that spends our national wealth more efficiently than their current administrative-overhead-heavy private insurers, producing another net gain for our economy.

But there’s no reasoning with robots. Expect those talking points to end up in handouts and emails to legislators. Expect those talking points to pop up in House and Senate floor speeches from Koch-leaning corporatist Republicans who just can’t explain to their Lincoln Day Dinner donors that expanding Medicaid to save lives and save money is more important than resisting the last bit of Obamacare left up to states’ choice.

Don’t expect the agonizing South Dakota Republican Party to counter with a push poll call that uses the Governor’s own example and asks, “Would you be more likely to support Medicaid expansion if you knew it would cover a single mom with three kids who’s working full-time but can’t get affordable insurance?” Governor Daugaard only kinda-sorta wants to expand Medicaid, only if he can get the credit without spending any money or political capital.


  1. MOSES 2015-12-29 11:32

    Rocket science I would say for the Gov, and the affordable care act, for Photo Op.

  2. Porter Lansing 2015-12-29 14:33

    Able bodied is a determination of Medicare not Medicaid. To get help with health insurance and co-payments you must be poor not disabled. This help is for the working poor and with the wages in SoDak, it’s no wonder so many workers can’t afford health insurance.

  3. leslie 2015-12-29 15:16

    the forces arrayed against the Affordable Care Act reflect the ferocity with which the new GOP has evolved toward protecting the wealthy. Obstructionism started in 2009. no battle is over. no democrat is allowed to do a job for the people. no pot of taxpayer money is protected from privatization. scorched earth is the newest speaker’s policy at EVERY turn. thune, noem and rounds march lockstep to this mantra, as do daugaard and jackley.

    bill moyers recently said: this is the fight of our lives. you better believe it

  4. Rorschach 2015-12-29 18:04

    Would you vote GOP in 2016 if:

    1. You knew that they will lower or eliminate taxes for millionaires and increase the deficit?
    2. You knew that they will start ground wars in at least 3 countries in 2017?
    3. You knew that they will sell or lease America’s national forests and other public lands to corporations for pennies on the dollar?
    4. You knew that they will increase welfare payments to the wealthy while cutting health care benefits for the working poor?

  5. Porter Lansing 2015-12-29 18:24

    Good one, Rohr.

  6. bearcreekbat 2015-12-29 18:29

    Rohr’s contrast simply doesn’t work. The medicaid survey is based on lies and misdirection, while Rohr’s appears to be based on a reasonable restatement of Republican policy ideas.

  7. Rorschach 2015-12-29 19:02

    Yes bearcreekbat, my survey is what Republicans will actually try to do. Someone should put out those questions as a push poll.

  8. Porter Lansing 2015-12-29 19:06

    Push polls are one of the most despicable parts of elections. In CO push pollers often recruit young female interns or just naïve young people to perform them. I’ve had many conversations with these kids explaining what they’re involved in and how crooked and slimy what they’re doing is. I often start the conversation with, “I’ll take your poll but if I determine it’s a push poll I’m going to hang up and you don’t get paid unless I finish your entire survey.”

  9. Oldhag 2015-12-29 21:18

    This may not belong here, but I’m curious what any of you might know about this money coming into SD to an entity no longer registered with the SD Sec of state THE INDIAN BOARD OF EDUCATION FOR THE PIERRE INDIAN LEARNING CENTER
    Corporate ID NS005090
    Incorporation/Qualification Date 4/24/1972
    Home State SOUTH DAKOTA
    Status Delinquent
    Yet they just received nearly $3M in funding:
    Fiscal Year
    A: New assistance action
    Federal Funding Amount
    Total Funding Amount
    Obligation Action Date
    Starting Date
    Ending Date

    They had an interesting set of officers, so have no idea how groups like this continue to get multi-millions of $$$

    Why do we quibble over the needs of some folks for healthcare when soooooo much $$$ is just tossed?

  10. MD 2015-12-29 22:21

    Unfortunately, these tactics work against the uninformed public. Want proof? Go to facebook, look at all of the politically motivated memes that are shared, then verify them against snopes (Bear in mind, it happens on both sides).

    North Dakota made the decision to expand Medicaid and contracted it out to Sanford Health Plan for Medicaid Expansion Payments. While they have experienced many challenges with the cost of care for new patients, it is possible to get a red state motivated to accept federal money. Time to climb a mountain and build a legacy Daugaard.

  11. Gracie 2015-12-30 08:39

    I recd the robo poll, too. The final questions were about reelecting state legislators who voted for the expansion.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-12-30 09:12

    Gracie, that’s a very important note! That last question shows that whoever is polling has an eye on lobbying the Legislature and reinforcing the will of conservatives to challenge the Governor.

  13. Paladn 2015-12-30 10:20

    There may be a simple answer to all four questions — hang up.

  14. Porter Lansing 2015-12-30 10:25

    good one … Paladin. Have Gun Will Travel could very well be the finest Western TV show of all time.

  15. bearcreekbat 2015-12-30 11:16

    Paladn, hanging up was my initial reaction too, but then it occurred to me that is exactly what the crooked pollsters want – as few opinions as possible supporting the Medicaid expansion. If people answer in such a way that supports expansion, while just ignoring the false statements in the questions, perhaps the push-poll won’t end up so one sided (assuming they don’t just delete answers they don’t like).

    Here’s one for you Porter:

  16. mike from iowa 2015-12-30 11:30

    For what it is worth,I conducted my own poll on whether South Dakota should expand Medicare and the result was an overwhelming 100% in favor. A veritable,verifiable no-brainer,just like Dakota’s wingnuts in power.

  17. Porter Lansing 2015-12-30 12:54

    thx BCB … contrary to urban legend, Paladin’s first name was not WIRE lol

  18. leslie 2015-12-30 20:48

    i lopve tyhese chix, old hag and gracie.

    …excwept for the gun part of palladin.

    watching grandkids, i have been stunned at the violence of tom&jerry type disney casrtoons some uf us grew up with, along with the many, many gun shows. i assume there is a deep link between this acculturation to violence and today’s problems with guns, cops, and of course political fraud. i know, cave men were violent and that is it. maybe not.

    it is waaaaay past time to elect a female president, justices, and leaders of every sort.

  19. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-12-31 09:14

    bearcreekbat, I would assume that if the robocallers are willing to pose such biased questions, they can’t be trusted to conduct an honest poll. They may not even be gathering data; they may just be broadcasting the seeds of opposition and hoping enough take root in one out of twenty callers to tilt the comments legislators receive during the crackerbarrels. They could be testing messages for a paying client, in which case our rejection of every item might carry a little weight. But if out of 1000 calls, 900 respondents gave full-tilt support to Medicaid expansion, the pollsters would still tell their message-testing client, “A majority won’t be affected by your message, but among those open to persuasion, here are the messages most likely to make a difference.”

  20. Porter Lansing 2015-12-31 09:26

    You are correct. Push polls don’t even record the answers from those polled. It’s totally an advertising exercise. Any data they do collect are things like how long before you hang up, how long you think about their answer, things you say into the phone (even though you’re talking to a computer, sometimes) etc. Data mining on those polled. Highly despicable and very common.

  21. bearcreekbat 2015-12-31 10:51

    Cory and Porter, In that case it makes perfect sense to just hang up – unless you think you might be able to the person you are talking to that what he or she is doing is wrong.

  22. Porter Lansing 2015-12-31 12:27

    Absolutely, BCB. When the pollster already knows all your vital statistics (party affil, age, address and name) they already know how you’re going to vote.

  23. Porter Lansing 2015-12-31 12:30

    Sometimes if it’s a push poll I’ll give opposite answers just to screw up their data mine. But that just makes them call back and confirm, sometimes several times. And if you continue to give unpredictable answers, a real humanoid will call. Usually a polite older lady.

  24. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-01 10:58

    Bear, I take that tack sometimes if I get a real human on the line, and if I have time. Ideally, I’ll take the human’s time, keep her from making another call for as long as possible, increasing labor costs for the pollster to get the minimum quota of responses, then as we get toward the end, see if there’s an opening to prick the caller’s conscience.

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