Governor Daugaard has been taking the lead in formulating a way to allow Medicaid Expansion in South Dakota to happen. He’s been working with the federal government to come up with a plan for expansion if there is no additional cost to the state. The idea is that the change in treatment of Indian Health Service related costs would save the state more money than it costs to expand.
However, not everyone agrees, and some argue that while it might look good on paper, we need to consider the effect on society an expansion of this nature represents. Watertown State Representative Lee Schoenbeck has been one of the legislature’s strongest voices in opposition to the expansion on that basis.
This week he’s authored a column on the topic which appeared in the Watertown Public Opinion, is on the Argus Leader’s web site, and has been provided to the SDWC for your reading:
Welfare Expansion Will Make South Dakota Sick
Medicaid is a federally designed welfare program, which Obamacare encourages states to expand. In the 17 states with statistics available on Medicaid expansion, on average 63% more individuals applied for this component of Obamacare than the states had projected. In November we were told this expansion would add 44,000 South Dakotans to the welfare rolls. By December that number had increased to 55,000. Based upon the experience of the other states, South Dakota would likely see almost 90,000 citizens added to the welfare rolls if we do this expansion. Over 10% more of our state’s population that would be looking to the remaining taxpayers for free health care. At least 75% of those new welfare recipients are able-bodied and without dependents.
State officials met with then-Obama HHS Secretary Sebelius and said South Dakota would consider expanding this welfare program if we could require the recipients to work. Seems like a reasonable request, the South Dakotans paying for the program have to work. Secretary Sebelius dismissed the request as a non-starter! The Obama administration’s refusal to consider this reasonable requirement is enlightening. It means they don’t care about health care coverage so much as they care about creating unrestricted government dependency. Encouraging pride and some level of self-reliance for welfare recipients through earning the benefits is unacceptable to the Obama administration.
Opposing more welfare is not foreclosing health care coverage, and our family has experience with this situation. When dad was home disabled, mom took a job as a kitchen aid at the local nursing home. I remember mom telling us she did it for the health insurance. For our family, it just seemed like a natural continuation of the teachings of commitment, hard-work, and responsibility that had always been our parents’ lives. Today the politicians would – by their policy positions – preach against those qualities and those actions. They would encourage welfare, instead of work. They would send a message to young people of the value of looking to the government, and not the values our parents taught us.
States that have bought into the Obamacare deal have largely underestimated the number of eligible welfare recipients, many by up to 100%. It’s easy to see why. Free concentrates and creates demand. Run an ad offering free anything, and see how much demand you will create. Now tell people that you have an option for free health care that only requires them to either not work or reduce their work – its not rocket science to understand the consequences. People will adjust their lives and income so that they can qualify for free.
Understand, this is a government welfare program, not a health program. If the goal was health, the federal government would require (or at least let state’s require) that the welfare recipient not smoke, and be on a program to manage obesity – two huge health care cost drivers. But, the Obama administration will not allow these conditions either.
These 90,000 new welfare recipients will have to pay no deductible and no copayment. The financial skin in the game that makes the taxpaying South Dakotan’s think twice about overusing expensive health care resources, doesn’t exist for the Medicaid recipient.
There are some big players in South Dakota exerting pressure on the Governor because they want access to these federal funds, but their gain comes at too great a cost to the citizens of this state. Today the Obamacare advocates describe their new arbitrary mark – taxpayer funded health care for all who keep their earnings below 138% of the poverty level – as the mark where we really are caring and loving. Given their way, in five years that number will be 175%, and if given enough time they will get to where they set out for at the beginning of this Obamacare march – government owned and operated health care.
There is no such thing as free federal money. The brunt of the higher cost of this new welfare program will fall on those current programs that rely on our current Medicaid appropriations – the impoverished elderly in our nursing homes and the severely disabled in our community based facilities – people that really need and deserve our welfare tax dollars. Unlike the Obama Administration, South Dakota lacks the ability to print money or go into debt. The South Dakota legislature needs to bring sanity to this debate.