Once again, Governor Dennis Daugaard fails to lead. He has a creative plan that would bring the health and economic benefits of Medicaid expansion to South Dakota at no cost. This plan would have the remarkable side benefit of getting Uncle Sam to put more money into the Indian Health Service, which would fit with the professed agenda of our Congressional delegation to improve IHS care. This plan would win the Governor and our state merit points for innovation that could serve as a model for other states with large Indian populations.
But Governor Daugaard decides to let yahoos, squishy maybes, and rich liars set the agenda and stand in the way of good policy. The Governor announced yesterday that he will leave Medicaid expansion on the shelf for another year:
Governor Dennis Daugaard says he won’t call a special session of the state legislature to vote on Medicaid expansion.
…Daugaard says several legislators requested more time to study his plan for Medicaid expansion. His plan would expand coverage to 50,000 South Dakotans between the ages of 18 and 65 [Lee Strubinger, “Daugaard Will Not Call Special Session of State Legislature for Medicaid Expansion,” SDPB Radio, 2016.06.22].
More time to study the plan? Come on—the plan has been out in the open for six months. Every responsible, open-minded legislator has had a chance to review the mechanics and the impacts of the plan. The people saying they need more time to study it aren’t planning to spend any time studying; they’re waiting for the Koch brothers to feed them more hogwash and donate to their campaigns.
Or they’re just stalling, hoping the Presidential election will make Medicaid expansion go away:
“I’m confident the numbers work,” Daugaard says, “Now it’s a matter of getting a majority of the senate and the house to agree. At this point, a number of legislators want to wait to consider this issue until after the Presidential election” [Mark Russo, “Special Session Nixed for Medicaid Expansion,” KELO-AM, 2016.06.22].
Waiting for external factors to make hard policy decisions for them—that’s how South Dakota Republicans lead. Aaarrrggghhh!
Republican Rep. Joshua Klumb, who is campaigning to switch from House to Senate for District 20, is one of these specious dilators (dilatators? dilatorifiers? dimwits?):
Klumb, an opponent of Medicaid expansion, said he was happy to hear of Daugaard’s decision.
“I’m glad he didn’t call a special session,” Klumb said. “I think to do so before a presidential election was just not a smart idea, because things could change radically in the next few months” [Evan Hendershot, “Daugaard Will Not Call for Special Session for Medicaid Expansion,” Mitchell Daily Republic, 2016.06.22].
When it suits their political purposes, Republicans seem to think a Presidential election justifies putting off decisions. Sure, the next President may wreak all sorts of changes in federal policy, and federal policy dictates a huge portion of South Dakota’s policies. But that impending change didn’t stop the Legislature from appropriating money for roads, special education, and existing Medicaid programs. Things can always change radically, for a host of reasons. The prospect of radical change should stand in the way of doing the right thing for South Dakota.
I’m going to say to Dennis what I said to Gordon yesterday: if you want to get stuff done, you need to vote for Democrats. Dennis, you know who the opponents of your plan are. You know which of those opponents have challengers in Legislative elections who would come to Pierre and vote for Medicaid expansion on Day 1 of Session. Quietly rally your friends to support those pro-expansion candidates, or at least decline to fund the anti-expansion candidates.