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Noem Names Rave to Regents; Can We Trust Tim to Push Medicaid Expansion?

I have no doubt that Tim Rave can walk and chew gum at the same time. But can he simultaneously serve as a gubernatorial appointee and promote a popular ballot initiative that the Governor staunchly opposes?

Tim Rave used to be a Republican Senator. He quit the Legislature in 2015 to put his GOP-insider influence to work lobbying for the health-industrial complex, first as VP for public policy at Sanford Health and now as chief of the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations. The latest major public policy project Rave has been overseeing at SDAHO is a Medicaid expansion initiative.

Rave spoke in lukewarm code about Medicaid expansion and took no action to promote it when he had the chance to enact it as a legislator. Now as SDAHO president, he doesn’t appear to be doing much to move the ball, either. His organization announced a coalition in December, in a move that seemed timed and designed to weaken support for the active Medicaid expansion petition drive launched a month earlier by Dakotans for Health, which had been working for months to maximize the time it would have to collect signatures for its initiative. The Secretary of State approved the SDAHO coalition’s petition for circulation on March 25, but four weeks later, Dakotans for Health still looks like the only player in the field actively collecting signatures, gathering endorsements, and promoting the issue with updated Web content.

Rave apparently has been busy getting himself a new sinecure in state government. On Monday, Governor Kristi Noem announced she is appointing Rave to the Board of Regents. Rave appears to be part of a three-man partisan takeover squad: Noem is also putting former Republican legislator Jeff Partridge and her most recent chief of staff and career GOP insider Tony Venhuizen on the nine-member Board of Regents. Rave, Partridge, and Venhuizen don’t change the on-paper partisan make-up of the Regents—they’re all Republicans replacing Republicans—but we’re moving up a grade in cronyism from three relatively reasonable mainstream Chamber of Commerce Republicans to members of the Pierre Club who have won elections (Venhuizen as a campaign manager, not a candidate) and held leadership positions in the Capitol.

Regent isn’t a full-time job; members still hold down their full-time jobs and take time off for monthly meetings and occasional grand-poobah-pery. But especially in Kristi-land, you don’t get cushy, splashy appointments like that if you aren’t a Kristi loyalist. Kristi Noem has always opposed Medicaid expansion and the horse it rode in on. Continuing to fight Medicaid expansion is good for her political brand. It is thus highly unlikely that she would appoint a passionate public advocate for Medicaid expansion to any important position, especially not to a Board of Regents that she wants to remake and control as a wing of her culture-war campaign.

Rave has been a Noem shill since the beginning of her career as a political celebrity. Rave now enjoys a cushy appointment where Noem will expect him to do her bidding in bringing our public universities in line with her authoritarianism. Can we really trust Rave to work for Kristi, then step out of his Regental confabs and eagerly promote a Medicaid expansion initiative that would undermine Noem’s message, her vote total in 2022, and her springboard to the GOP Presidential primary in 2024?


  1. Bob Newland 2021-04-21 08:31

    “Rave On.” It’s a good song by Buddy Holly. I went to a rave once, and did some Ecstasy. It made the Rave tolerable.

  2. jake 2021-04-21 10:15

    One has to be on drugs, Bob, to endure ‘Kristi-culture’ and Trumpism!
    Hence her now famous trademark “METH-We’re on It!”

  3. Gwen 2021-04-21 21:47

    Rave is old school, good ole boys all the way. Not a creative person very main stream whatever the puppeteer directs. This again is a sad day for SD.

  4. Mary Wick 2021-04-27 18:05

    There are two Medicaid expansion efforts. One spearheaded by Tim Johnson’s son, the other with Rick Weiland. Is Rave with one of those groups?

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-04-27 18:46

    Tim Johnson’s son Brendan is the prime sponsor and one of the lawyers for Amendment A, the marijuana measure we passed last year but which Gov. Noem has blocked in court. Unless some news has broken that I haven’t heard, Brendan Johnson is not involved with either Medicaid expansion measure.

  6. grudznick 2021-04-27 20:13

    Bob, was that the rave you wore the borrowed black leather and your best fishing hat to? I remember that well. Tim Rave, well he’s a hirsute little fella with a heavy beard and he’s got your best interests in mind.

  7. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2021-05-02 11:16

    This is the classic Republican approach to health care, which is to do nothing. In fact, I am still waiting for Trump’s health care plan. The only time Republicans seem to be able to be proactive on health care is if they can turn it into a tax cut, like when they consistently suggest that HSAs are the answer to all of our health care needs.

    Although, HSAs are of little value unless you have the funds to save, which many South Dakotans do not have due to our low wage Republican agenda in this state.

    When Tom Price headed HHS under Trump, he often talked about access, but he never talked about affordability, but that’s because the Republican Party likes to keep health care in this state, and country, as some sort of perverted Darwinist experiment, where saving lives is secondary to saving money.

    The confusion which Rave has submitted into this debate over the expansion of Medicaid in this state is merely an other attempt by Republicans to try to dilute the health care debate, point fingers, scream socialism, and give the illusion of solvency like Trump’s promise of a new comprehensive health care plan.

    Trust me, we have been down this road before with the Grand Old Party; a political party that claims it is for life as long as it doesn’t cost too much, which further explains Governor Noem’s covid policies or lack there of, does it not?

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