Two podcasts in a row? Don’t get used to it—audio still takes more time to edit than text and links!
Last week I pulled a few distressing figures from a new report by Dakotans for Health showing how many South Dakotans will see their access to health care become much more precarious if Marty Jackley and other anti-Obama (still? really, guys? can you not let it go?) Republicans tear up the Affordable Care Act. Saturday, Dakotans for Health founding member Adam Weiland met me for a deeper conversation about what his group is fighting for. We spoke about the Dark Ages—i.e., the days before the ACA, when Americans were one illness or one pregnancy away from becoming uninsurable—to which Republicans like Jackley and Trump would return us with anti-ACA lawsuits, junk insurance, and other senseless policy destruction.
We chatted over breakfast at the Blarney Stone Pub in downtown Sioux Falls, thus the background noise. Breakfast comes with a free trip through the bloody Mary bar; if you’re health-conscious or clock conscious (reminder: this is breakfast), you can just get straight veggie juice. I took ginger ale.
The big takeaway: nobody wins from killing the Affordable Care Act, not South Dakotans with pre-existing conditions, not young people, not sick people, not folks not quite of retirement/Medicare age, not even the insurance companies, who benefit from having more policyholders spreading out the risk.
Why can’t they let go of the whole “anti-Obama” thing? It’s difficult to let go of something when you are unable or unwilling to admit what it even is – like being an alcoholic or a being a sex addict or being a racist.
Ms. Skarin and Mr. Weiland both bring up the essential need to focus attention on local politics. It’s uplifting to hear two young people dedicated full time to problem solving. This bares one giant South Dakota problem that is the root of hundreds of unaddressed problems. Part time politicians. It’s easy to look at performance negligence and use “lazy” to describe the majority political party in Pierre. Perhaps, the issue with lack of ingenuity and lack of dedication to problem solving stems from politicians that spend only a miniscule part of their year dealing with other people’s problems. Part-time workers find it easy to become Dakota Contrary and just say that problems are too big to even “begin” to tackle. This can partially explain the majority of Pierre politicians who simply refuse to get involved. If most of your life is involved with making your own living, you can’t totally be blamed for ignoring South Dakota’s many “full time” problems.
Richard, you touch on a serious problem here: the folks pushing ACA repeal seem to ignore all good policy arguments in favor of an irrational distaste for politician who drove the policy. Personal animus is no way to run a country (as we’re seeing now).
Porter, I like the trail you follow there. There’s a contrary, classicist argument that part-time citizen legislators stay closer to the “real life” of the community. But paying for health care is part of real life, and our community (local, state, and federal) faces huge problems in paying for health care, problems that appear to require constant attention from dedicated policymakers. We now see what happens when we have a part-time President, who lacks the attention span even when he’s in the Oval Office to seriously study a problem and compose a coherent policy response. A Governor Noem would be just as bad: she’d spend more time on parades and pageantry than on any serious policymaking or problem-solving… much as has been the case during her tenure in Congress.
But yes, let’s stay local—that’s one thing I loved about this interview with Adam about health care and my conversation with Libby from the ACLU about criminal justice. Adam and Libby both draw from evidence from around the country, but they effectively put the problems in terms of real impacts here in South Dakota.