One of the most contentious and controversial issues I can remember in recent legislative history is coming up to be heard in House commerce committee tomorrow – House Bill 1067, a measure which is designed to turn back the vote held in 2014, which was commonly known as the patient choice measure or Initiated Measure 17.
Why is this measure being brought back to be fought over? As noted in an article on KELOland TV yesterday:
Peters says it was her own personal experience paying for health insurance, because she’s self-employed, that led her to co-author a new bill to amend the measure.
“For consumers of health insurance plans, we only get one choice. You have to buy all panel of providers–that then drives up the cost of your insurance plan,” Peters said.
It’s a change that Sanford Health is lobbying for, while physician-owned facilities like the Sioux Falls Specialty Hospital, whose CEO is state legislator Blake Curd, is against.
But changing a law that was overwhelmingly voted into place can be a challenge for those also voted into office.
As I’ve noted before, this former ballot measure passed by the widest margin of any ballot measure voted on in 2014. Making it extremely hard to argue that somehow the will of the voters was misconstrued.
If voters didn’t know what they were doing to themselves, why did they do it in such incredible numbers? I’d argue that a lack of knowledge wasn’t really the case. They went into it with eyes wide open.
One of the things people were slapped in the face with in 2013/2014 was a president who told them distinctly and absolutely that under the president’s health care plan, Obamacare, “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” As he noted in 2013…
But then, just a few months later, in a sit down interview, the president was forced to admit that his prior statement wasn’t exactly correct…
“For someone who didn’t have health insurance previously, they’re going to have to make some choices. And they might end up having to switch doctors in part because they’re saving money.”
The electorate didn’t like it when Obama told them they couldn’t keep their doctor anymore. They really didn’t like it. And, that may have contributed to Initiated Measure17’s success at the ballot box.
But fast-forward 18 months later, and we’re now fighting this battle all over again.
House Bill 1067 has really come down to a battle of wills. On one side, we have the electorate who spoke with an overwhelming voice, and said people would be allowed to use and keep their doctor. Are there consequences? I don’t doubt there are, but can the added costs really be as high as the proponents claim, since the Doctors are required to accept the in-network rate?
Maybe. But, if that’s what the electorate voted to accept, voted as being what they wanted, that’s what they voted for.
IM 17, for better or worse, was the will of the electorate, and an example of prairie populism fully expressed.
House Bill 1067 has the will of the electorate butting up against the will of the Sanford Health Systems who has been aggressively pursuing the measure, as they have lined up an army of lobbyists, and an army of employees e-mailing legislators. (Although, the employees might not exactly be mentioning who they work for when they send those e-mails.)
Avera has kept a low profile on this, which is interesting, as it brings into question the systemic problems that the measure’s proponent’s claim. They have health plans too – so why aren’t they in the mix?
Clearly, House Bill 1067 is the will of the Sanford Health System, who wants to tell people that if they want to keep their doctor, they want to charge them more. Or what was the point made earlier..? I believe the direct quote was “they might end up having to switch doctors in part because they’re saving money.”
Not exactly a point for Republican lawmakers in South Dakota to campaign on.
If the measure is overturned in Pierre, it’s not like this fight is going to end in the legislature. I’ve already heard that if House Bill 1067 passes, petitions will be circulated to place it on the ballot as a referred measure. So, not only could this fight go on, it could drag on to November.
But for now, the will of the people and the will of Sanford are set to clash tomorrow in committee. Time to grab some popcorn and to watch the fireworks.