It is unsettling to learn that over 14% of this state's population is covered under South Dakota's Medicaid program. That's 116,000 children, adults and disabled people. There are another estimated 48,000 people who would be added under the expanded eligibility as part of the federal health care law, slanged as ObamaCare. South Dakota's estimated 2011 population is 824,082.
Republican State Legislators can wring their hands over their hopes being dashed by the Supreme Court when it upheld President Obama's health care initiative. What the legislature needs to do is come up with solutions on how to deal with the poor and lower middle class workers in this state who have no means to access affordable health care or insurance in this state.
Uninsured Americans cost the American health care system an additional $49 billion. Governor Daugaard believes health care decisions should be left up to each state and he doesn't want to expand Medicaid because he doesn't believe the federal government has the ability to pay for it. He has also decided that SD should opt out of the expansion of Medicaid which was one of the biggest milestones of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The law previously required states to cover their poorest or lose federal funding to Medicaid (federal funding covers 90-100% of the costs) until the supreme court ruling on Obama Care. Now each state can decide whether or not they want to opt out of expanding coverage to their poorest with no penalty. The thing is, we all are impacted by this recalcitrant position of the governor.
Who does the Governor think pays for these expenses? These expenses are not free. All he is doing is cost shifting. That 14% plus population who needs coverage but can't because of the Governor's position will eventually end up in hospital emergency rooms. We all know that going to an emergency room is no way to treat illnesses that are not an emergency. It drives up costs and guess what, you and I are going to pay for it through increased premiums in our own health insurance coverages.
When you are in charge of finding solutions, as an elected official, you cannot say you are not going to do something. Because when you say that, you impact somebody else you represent. It shows you don't see the big picture and don't have a clue how to solve the problem.