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Schoenbeck Pretends Amendment D Will Lead to Future Medicaid Expansions, Forgets Rules of ObamaCare

Senate Commandant—er, President Pro-Tem—Lee Schoenbeck (R-5/Lake Kampeska) was on the phone with Lori Walsh on SDPB this noon making stuff up about Medicaid expansion, which South Dakotans can finally by voting Yes on Amendment D this fall. Unable to deny that expanding Medicaid saves lives and saves money or explain why not one of the 38 states that have expanded Medicaid has reversed that decision (including Virginia, where Medicaid expansion has paid for itself twice over), Senator Schoenbeck yelled Slippery Slope! (or, in this case, Sticky Escalator?) and said passing Amendment D will inevitably lead to further expansion of state health care benefits.

Referring to the standard Medicaid expansion threshold of expanding benefits to folks making 138% of the poverty line, Schoenbeck said, “You know what’s going to happen when this one is done? Two years from now they’re going to say we need to be at 150% and you don’t care about people if you don’t vote to raise it another 20%.” Schoenbeck told Walsh that she should look beyond the fiscal note for Amendment D and run the numbers for expanding Medicaid to folks making 150% of the poverty line, because “there’s no policy reason why the people that keep pushing more welfare will stop” at the 138% level Amendment D will enact.

Translation: An imaginary Amendment E would be a terrible idea, so vote against the real Amendment D.

Senator Schoenbeck, first, read Amendment D. It says “provide Medicaid benefits ro any person over age 18 and under 65 whose income is at or below 133% of the federal poverty level, plus 5% of the federal poverty level for the applicable family size, as provided in federal law.” Amendment D says nothing about 150%. There is no secret clause in Amendment D triggering an increase to 150%. Amendment D’s multitudinous supporters have said nothing about 150%. 150% is not on the ballot.

Second, Lee, there is a very clear and well-known policy reason that the supporters of Medicaid expansion will stop at Amendment D’s threshold of 138%. That policy reason is the Affordable Care Act—ObamaCare! Folks making more than that in states that expand Medicaid get enough in ACA premium subsidies that they can get affordable health coverage without Medicaid. If South Dakota cranked Medicaid eligibility up to 150% or wherever else Lee’s slippery slope-alator leads, President Biden would say, “Good on you!” but we wouldn’t get any federal money for it. Absent such federal dollars, Senator Schoenbeck’s Republican friends at the hospitals know there’s no reason to push, not to mention no way to get cheap South Dakotans to vote, for further Medicaid expansion.

I’d be fine if Amendment D were really just the first stop on America’s trip to join Canada, Norway, and other nice countries at the pinnacle of civilization with universal single-payer health insurance. But Amendment D ain’t that. Amendment D seeks to resolve the ACA coverage gap that Chief Justice Roberts—a good Catholic just like Lee—created when he saved the ACA in 2012 by making Medicaid expansion optional, which boggled the ACA math that assumed all states would expand Medicaid. Amendment D fully solves this problem all by itself, going as far as necessary and logical under the ACA. There will be no Amendment D+.

Bonus Republican Quote: Lori Walsh asked Senator Lee Schoenbeck if his opposition to expanding Medicaid comes from fiscal worries or from a moral concern about who deserves access to health care. Senator Schoenbeck replied, “People decide whether they deserve health care. They decide it by the choices they make every day about whether they get up and go get a job or not.”


  1. grudznick 2022-08-03 19:13

    Mr. Schoenbeck is righter than right. Those fellows who sit at home on their duff just watching the teevee and probably toking away need to get up and get to work. We need to ban slackards from getting medicaid.

  2. jkl 2022-08-03 19:25

    SD unemployment at 2.3%. People are not choosing to stay home hoping for this expansion.
    Besides why would you raise to 150% when you can just raise the poverty rate.

  3. Guy 2022-08-03 19:31

    Grudz, I don’t know what you’re talking about? “Those fellows who sit at home on their duff just watching the teevee…” What homes? There is a huge lack of affordable and attainable housing in this state. So, most of these imaginary people that “sit at home on their duff” just don’t exist, except maybe in your head. LOL

  4. larry kurtz 2022-08-03 19:34

    Stingy, entitled Republicans like Mr. Schoenbeck will never see the pearly gates but be assured they will see the fires of Hades.

  5. Bonnie B Fairbank 2022-08-03 20:21

    Grudz, just shut up already with your “righter than right” mantra. It’s offensively repetitive, means nothing, and highlights your nasty, narrow mind.
    I do not know one person, male or female, who sits around the house watching teevee and smoking weed and being “slackards.”
    I DO know one man that worked for the SD DOT that was hit-and-run by a “motorist” and receives almost $1100 monthly in Medicare/Medicaid benefits.
    Did I mention you should eat sh*t and die, Grudz?

  6. grudznick 2022-08-03 21:04

    Big Goat!

  7. Arlo Blundt 2022-08-03 21:16

    What the Senator and so many others ignore is that those of us fortunate to have various layers of insurance, private and public, with co-pays and deductibles, pay the health care bills of those with no insurance now. We pay through higher rates, higher co-pays and deductibles. There is no free lunch with health care, somebody pays the Doctors and Hospital bills to those providers. Universal Insurance lowers the vulnerability of the insured and spreads those costs of the remaining uninsured among 200 million taxpayers. I, personally, find this arrangement a much better system. The Senator’s solution “Get a job and your employer will pay your health insurance”, just doesn’t happen in South Dakota as only elite employers insure their employees with anything close to adequate health insurance. There are enough mature tax payers in South Dakota whose children are young adults working, but without health insurance, that I believe this Amendment will pass.

  8. Curt 2022-08-04 00:26

    They really have no shame. Schoenbeck and his legislative allies for years and years have thwarted every attempt to plug the Medicaid gap with their deceptive arguments and “alternative facts”. When the writing was on the wall that the issue would go directly to the voters, they thought they could sneak in a 60% threshold for passage by putting it on the June Primary ballot. When that failed (miserably) they simply reverted to their familiar tactic of using imaginary numbers to attempt to defeat it. It was Schoenbeck and other weasels who have consistently worked to stifle the Initiative and Referendum process in SD by requiring such things as a “fiscal note” for ballot measures. Now they want to corrupt the process further by denying the calculations provided by their own “experts” and claim that the “real costs will be much higher”. Trust them. Just trust them.

  9. Richard Schriever 2022-08-04 07:42

    grudz, you know that when one lives in an imaginary world, populated with imaginary people, yup to no good imaginary acts against oneself – that qualifies as a mental illness (psychosis) and there is insurance that will afford you treatment for same – no? BTW – goats will eat your house.

  10. Dana P 2022-08-04 08:44

    Mr Arrogant and judgy man, proves AGAIN he is out of touch. And heartless.

    Many of his fellow South Dakotans are working, some more than one job, and STILL qualify for Medicaid. (thanks to low wages in South Dakota) And how about the disabled folks who are unable to work?

    Are there a few abusers of the system? Sure, there always are. But it is such a small percentage

    All of these issues continue to drill down to their one goal. The cruelty is the point.

  11. Ryan 2022-08-04 09:11

    grudz – your loafing shed must be at maximum occupancy at this point, with all these easy marks.

    curt – well said.

  12. O 2022-08-04 09:36

    We must resolve the status of health/medical care in the US. Is health care a right or is it a commodity that goes only to those privileged enough to afford it? Again, 150% of the poverty line is seen as some obscene measure of wealth, shifting any discussion of what REAL wealth looks like and our elected officials dedication to protecting this new aristocracy. At the base of Sen. Schoenbeck’s argument is cost: who will pay those costs? That is a discussion that the 1% really do not want to start in a democracy.

    grudznick’s brand of conservatism is a reminder that those on the Right see the nation as a labor force for the owner class and nothing more. As long as the corporate overlords have their positions filled, then we are allowed food, shelter, and MAYBE health care; the only way to have value in society is create profit for the 1%.

  13. WillyNilly 2022-08-04 10:19

    Poor grudz… he promotes the conservative view that it’s all about winning despite any costs… in his case it is goats. But what are they good for? Can they give him health insurance, breakfast or any other tangible benefit? With grudz’s method, no one benefits. Well, maybe I do because I can see clearly how weak is any argument he puts forward. But I won’t accept goats. Why is he ‘poor’? Because his humanity has been lost to his warped ‘winning’ philosophy.

  14. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-08-04 10:25

    Let’s focus on dismissing Lee’s fantasy 150% distraction. Amendment D raises Medicaid eligibility to 138% of the federal poverty line, as the ACA was designed. Raising Medicaid eligibility to 150% of poverty is beyond the scope of the ACA. There’s no federal money to be had in Schoenbeck’s scarecrow proposal and thus no political will to propose it, let alone pass it.

    Voting for Amendment D does not raise Medicaid eligibility to 150% of poverty or even raise the prospect of any current supporter of D proposing to do so in a future constitutional amendment.

    Schoenbeck’s bonus comment indicting Mediciad in general—people deserve health care if they work—warrants separate scrutiny. taken on face, does that statement mean that every worker, even minimum wage workers, deserves health insurance? Does that statement mean every employer is obliged to give every employee health benefits? Does that statement mean that Lee agrees with the supporters of Amendment D that all those working people whose wages still don’t add up to 138% of the poverty level ought to get health insurance from the state?

  15. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-08-04 10:27

    Grudz, make yourself useful: run up to Schoenbeck’s chalet at Terry Peak and get some responses from him on these questions.

  16. Donald Pay 2022-08-04 10:33

    I agree with Schoenbeck that fiscal notes are the toilet paper of the legislative and initiative process. There is a lot you can criticize about fiscal notes, including their lack of depth. That doesn’t seem to stop Schoenbeck from citing fiscal notes he likes. Now Schoenbeck is throwing out something pitifully stupid criticism for the dumb crowd. In his entire legislative career, he’s been more of a rectum licker for the elite, Now most of the elite have seen the light about how stupid Schoembeck’s position is on this. He’s left with rather weak tea to feed to the cretins he normally can’t stand.

  17. Jake 2022-08-04 10:40

    Grudz, in reality, is being eaten His by his own goats daily. His desire to “get other’s goats” shows to the readers his ignorance of how it is to be in the bottom 3rd of income instead of hovering up near the top (trump’s tax cut recipient)!

  18. 96Tears 2022-08-04 11:12

    Note to Lee: You’re better than that.

    You and Noem spent all that money and political capital to rid Pierre of the Whack-a-Doodles. Remember? So, why do you want to sound like a Whack-a-Doodle and lie about raising Medicaid eligibility to 138% of the federal poverty line??? Let’s save lives (even the post-born ones!) and save money! Also, stop talking to South Dakotans as if they are stupid and incurious.

    In your heart, you know I’m right. You were wrong as heck about Amendment C. Don’t be doubly wrong. Do the smart thing morally and politically. Get behind D to save lives and money.

  19. Joe 2022-08-04 12:13

    Grudz: The D-list Andy Rooney wannabe.

  20. Donald Pay 2022-08-04 15:48

    I heard a commentator say regarding the Alex Jones libel case that there is a large market for wanting to be lied to. Schoenbeck has ample experience with the Republican Party and corporate elite to know that marketing lies is the way they do business. It’s not that Schoenbeck actually believes the stuff he says. He doesn’t. He just knows that there are enough people out there who want to believe lies about “other people,” or lies about what “guv’ment might do next.? They manufacture lies to manufacture doubt to manufacture inaction or fear. There are a number of books written about this.

  21. Jenny 2022-08-04 16:28

    Republicans dislike poor people and especially poor Native Americans, blacks and hispanics.
    Pubs have never cared enough for poor people living on the margins of society, just don’t ever let them fool you into thinking they are pro-life.

    “If it’s a policy that benefits the rich, then it doesn’t have to be paid for, should last forever and is good for America,but if it benefits the poor, we can’t afford it, should end it as soon as possible and it will destroy our nation from within. ” – Jon Stewart

    Fight for your rights South Dakota, vote yes on Amendment D. Don’t let fake Catholics like Schoenbeck and fake whackadoodle Christians like Noem, refuse healthcare for SDs poor. Hardworking poor South Dakotans deserve it.

  22. grudznick 2022-08-05 19:06

    One of the most neato and entertaining things about Mr. Schoenbeck is his demeaning rhetoric when he’s mocking those insaner than most, like Mr. Pischke.

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