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No Leadership: Novstrup Stuck on “Maybe” on Medicaid Expansion

We’ve passed up three years of the medical and economic benefits of Medicaid expansion; why not make it four?

Such is the “leadership” offered by District 3 Republican Representative Al Novstrup:

Rep. Al Novstrup, still resisting Medicaid expansion
Rep. Al Novstrup, still resisting Medicaid expansion

Rep. Al Novstrup, R-Aberdeen, a self-proclaimed “maybe” vote, said he’s avoided the lobbying from the governor’s office and various groups so far.

“I’m not hearing anything,” Novstrup said. “I heard the arguments from the governor six months or a year ago, but nothing since then.”

Novstrup and Reps. Dick Werner, R-Herreid, and Burt Tulson, R-Lake Norden, said they’re leaning toward ‘no’ votes on expansion, but would prefer to bring up the prospect after the presidential election, if at all.

“I suspect that the program would look really different under President Trump or President Clinton. After November there might not be an option of expansion,” Novstrup said [Dana Ferguson, “Fighting for the ‘Maybe’ Vote on Medicaid Expansion,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.06.18].

Novstrup’s milquetoast maybe—no different from specious dodge cloaked in concern for Indians that he gave in February—is dunked in needless delay. We know Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act saves states and hospitals money. We know Governor Daugaard’s crafty Medicaid/IHS swap means we can claim all those benefits without adding one dollar to state spending.

We’ve waited. We’ve seen Medicaid expansion works. Al Novstrup, who wants to be Senator, refuses to show the leadership to back and enact a plan that is nothing but good for South Dakota. The only reason to oppose it is pure partisan pettiness: Obama did it, so we’re going to fight it!

And to suggest that we have to wait until after the Presidential election to solve problems is as partisan and irresponsible as our U.S. Senators’ absurd argument that they don’t have to do their job and hear Supreme Court nominees in an election year. We elect legislators to legislate, not watch election coverage on Fox News all year.

I reject that petty stalling in favor of doing right by South Dakota. We’re way past maybe. Call the Special Session, Governor. Twist some arms, and let’s finally expand Medicaid.


  1. mike from iowa 2016-06-19 16:28

    I’m guessing Drumpf’s version of Obamacare and Medicare look like zeroes on a line item budget. There’s something wingnuts can get behind. Just think of the taxcuts for the koch bros if healthcare was defunded.

    I am man enough to admit when I am wrong. I was wrong about the trickle down movement. It works exceedingly well when it involves Drumpf’s trickle down racism.

  2. jerry 2016-06-19 16:51

    A good investigative reporter could look at all three of these dingalings family tree to see how many of their relatives are on Medicaid. I am sure that all three have or have had a mother, father, aunt or uncle that have resided in a nursing home on my dime. I ain’t bitching about it, but I am suspect to their hypocrisy on this matter. The governor himself grew up in a household that had some disabilities as I have read, I believe both parents were deaf. What kind of government help was given for support there? If Daugaard really wanted Medicaid Expansion, he could get it. He is the leader of the Republican party in South Dakota just by being the governor, am I right?

  3. Donald Pay 2016-06-19 17:30

    Jerry said, “If Daugaard really wanted Medicaid Expansion, he could get it.”

    Uh, no. Just because he is Governor doesn’t mean he can get whatever he wants. He’s having a difficult time selling the deep borehole project, and I don’t think he’s going to get it because the people of the state are very much opposed. Regarding the Medicaid expansion, he has to face up to his own gutlessness in buying into and spouting phony arguments three years ago.

    You know, I recall a similar fight when Medicaid was first enacted. I think the start of Medicaid in South Dakota was delayed a year or two because of the same phony arguments. Eventually practicality and proper governance wins over ignorance.

  4. Mark Winegar 2016-06-19 18:51

    Let’s roll the crops on Rep. Al Novstrup, R-Aberdeen.

  5. Robert McTaggart 2016-06-19 18:55

    Sorry Mr. Pay…it is fair to say that SOME people are very much opposed to the borehole and have voiced their opinion. No vote has occurred yet by the citizens of the county, or the county commission, or the citizens of the state.

    In essence, Medicaid expansion is a hedge for the state budget in case the economy tanks. The real politics will occur if the state budget is stressed and the expansion did not happen.

  6. grudznick 2016-06-19 20:09

    Dr. McTaggart is a deep thinker, Mr. Pay, and you and I would be wise to consider his thoughts. Even if The Borehole does not happen in Spink County there are people out there looking to dig it no matter what, even in the dead of the nights. As Obama starts to tank the economy once again, the Medicaid is going to be a very big issue.

  7. grudznick 2016-06-19 20:19

    Mr. Novstrup seems to have gotten a new hair cut which is similar to the old “Mo” he sported but shows the more suave and experienced side of him. I think Mr. Novstrup is a fellow with a great deal of wisdom and experience. You should have run against the house people, Mr. H, where they haven’t showed up to work in a year and are absolutely insaner than most.

  8. Robert McTaggart 2016-06-19 20:41

    Grudznick….fixed a typo for you….

    “As Obama starts to thank the economy once again…”

  9. mike from iowa 2016-06-19 20:45

    Dr McTaggart is a deep thinker-pun intended Grudz?

  10. Robert McTaggart 2016-06-19 20:49

    Not as much as some of the advocates of antidisestablishmentlibertarianism…

  11. jerry 2016-06-19 22:20

    Mr. Pay, you are correct on what you say. I said that he could do it because he is governor and the leader of the legislature regarding his party. What I should have said is that because he is the governor and the leader of the legislature regarding his party, he has the means necessary to find a way to make it happen, if he wanted to. He does not want to. The proof is the deal that was made regarding Native treatment regarding Medicaid, the federal government said yes, end of that argument.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-06-20 07:53

    Hey, Donald, if Bill Janklow were Governor and he wanted Medicaid expansion, would he be able to get it?

    The Stace Nelson conservatives complain that the Governor’s Office dictates what happens during Session. Is the Daugaard Administration not the imperial governorship that the cons portray it as?

  13. Rorschach 2016-06-20 08:23

    Al Novstrup is leading a stress free life. At age 61 his hair has not yet even begun to turn gray.

  14. jerry 2016-06-20 09:03

    Al buys Grecian Formula by the truck load. A slight drizzle of rain and he looks like the professor from Back to the Future.

  15. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2016-06-20 13:35

    Perhaps Senator Thune and Congresswoman Noems’ new found commitments to appropriately fund health care on our Reservations could be used to encourage some our Republican legislators, who are soft on expanding Medicaid in South Dakota, to get on board with this issue.

    Blame put a side for a moment, the IHS crisis we currently have on the Reservations today should be demonstrative enough to persuade South Dakota legislators to the importance of getting on board with Obamacare, the expansion of Medicaid, and the added funding it will provide to hospitals through this state.

    When you look at the core issue both for IHS and health care in general in this state what you are really talking about is the challenges which rural health care demands present to us all…. and with an expansion of Medicaid through Obamacare these demands can be better met than without.

    If there truly are state legislators who are opposed to an expansion of Medicaid in South Dakota, then I wonder what they think of the current crisis with IHS or recent comments by our Republican congressional delegation towards this issue? It seems to me that the IHS crisis today is obviously examples of neglect and lack of funding – two realities, which are growing continuously throughout South Dakota each day, especially in rural South Dakota…. and with Medicaid expansion being an obviously capable, necessary, and similar solvency as meeting our treaty obligations (or actually offering better rural health care on our tribal lands regardless) are on the Reservations you would think….

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