The Affordable Care Act is improving and saving lives by expanding Medicaid:

Charles McClinon, a 50-year-old Ohio resident who lives with epilepsy, told ThinkProgress, “The peace of mind is worth more than anything. I could be a millionaire, but if I don’t have peace of mind, what good is it? And that’s one thing this type of insurance is good for. I know I can get the kind of care I need.”

In 2010, McClinon’s epileptic seizures intensified, making it too difficult for him to hold down a job or complete the university classes in which he was enrolled in at the time. To make matters worse, his student health policy dropped him under a pre-existing condition clause. After that, McClinon struggled to afford the treatment he needed, especially after his medications started to give him debilitating side effects. He eventually became homeless.

After Ohio’s governor became one of the first Republican leaders to accept the Medicaid expansion, however, McClinon gained coverage in February. He can now afford the multiple medications he needs to manage his condition — and this summer, he also had a cutting-edge surgery that will hopefully prevent his seizures and eliminate the need for all the drugs he currently takes. Thanks to his Medicaid coverage, he didn’t have to pay for that procedure out of his own pocket.

McClinon, who worked his whole life before his seizures worsened, is looking forward to feeling like his old self again. “It’s not even just about medical care — it’s also been helpful for me on the mental health side,” McClinon said, referring to his newfound peace of mind. “I don’t know what I would have done if I lived in another state” [Tara Culp-Ressler, "Meet The People Whose Lives Have Been Transformed By Medicaid Expansion," ThinkProgress, 2014.10.16].

Read Culp-Ressler's full article, then remind why anyone is voting for the South Dakota Republicans like Mike Rounds, Kristi Noem, and Dennis Daugaard who want to take such health and peace of mind away from their fellow South Dakotans.

40 comments

CNN correspondent Dana Bash noted how cordial—heck, downright friendly—Rick Weiland, Larry Pressler, and Gordon Howie are to each other as they compete for the U.S. Senate seat. During breaks in a KSOO radio forum last week, the candidates chatted about poetry, hunting, and the weather.

Another sign of comity in South Dakota politics is this profile of Democratic candidate for state treasurer Denny Pierson written by Libertarian blogger and opposing candidate Ken Santema.

Yes, Santema's name appears on the ballot against Pierson. Santema uses his blog to broadcast his opponent's ideas on engaging county officials in helping citizens reclaim unclaimed property, restoring the state's unclaimed property holding period from three to five years, and making more public service announcements to let people know about unclaimed property.

Santema waits for the end to editorialize:

Pierson is an interesting entry into this race. His idea of expanding the Unclaimed Property area of the State Treasurers office to County Treasurers is interesting. I haven’t looked deep enough into to see whether it is a workable idea yet, but I will admit it is something worth discussing. I think the Democrats may have chosen well when putting Pierson on the ballot for State Treasurer [Ken Santema, "Democrat State Treasurer Candidate Denny Pierson Talking about His Top Priority," SoDakLiberty, 2014.10.19].

Find me one other candidate anywhere on the South Dakota's ballot who blogs so generously, civilly, and honestly about his opponent and his opponent's platform. Ken Santema, you are a credit to blogging, to Libertarians, and to South Dakota politics.

12 comments

Over a year ago, the Council for a Livable World endorsed Rick Weiland's Senate campaign. I noted at the time that the anti-nuclear group's endorsement shouldn't concern boosters of Ellsworth Air Force Base, since Ellsworth doesn't pack nukes any more.

Ah, but don't let facts stand in the way of Republican Mike Rounds's campaign tactics. Team Rounds apparently bought a full page of the Rapid City Journal Sunday to say Weiland and the Council for a Livable World would get rid of the B-1B bomber.

Rounds's claim is false:

“A shamefully desperate Mike Rounds has been caught in yet another lie in a pattern that is becoming all too familiar and sad – this time by running an ad in the Rapid City Journal that is not only false but is scurrilous. Their characterization that the Council and Rick Weiland want to “scuttle” the B-1B bomber and shut down Ellsworth Air Force base is completely and blatantly false. And Mike Rounds knows it. In fact lying has become so much a part of Mike Rounds’ DNA that even Pinocchio would be embarrassed,” said Weiland Campaign Manager Kris Swedin.

The Weiland campaign isn’t the only aggrieved party to Rounds’ lie.

Angela Canterbury, Executive Director for the Council had this to say in response to Rounds’ ad, “The ad is simply incorrect. The Council for a Livable World does not advocate closing Ellsworth Air Force Base. Council for a Livable World does not support scuttling the B-1B bomber. The President does not support scuttling the B-1B bomber. The ad is made up out of whole cloth. The B-1B is a 1980’s program that we opposed when it was first initiated—when it had nuclear weapons capability—but that’s ancient history. In 2014, under President Obama, the Air Force began a multi-year technological overhaul and upgrade of its B1-B Lancer long-range bomber fleet, which we do not oppose. Mike Rounds is making this up” [Rick Weiland campaign, press release, 2014.10.20].

Team Rounds issues this response, which deviously avoids defending the original specific claim about the B-1B bomber:

"Obama and CLW are undeniably bad for the Rapid City community, Ellsworth Air Force Base and American strategic defense," Rounds' campaign manager Rob Skjonsberg said in an emailed statement. "They’ve endorsed Rick Weiland — what else is there to say? Rick Weiland and his allies would be a disaster for the Rapid City community" [Seth Tupper, "Ellsworth Dragged into Senate Race," Rapid City Journal, 2014.10.20].

There's just no having a rational debate with Mike Rounds. He appears determined in the last days of his campaign to salvage all the votes he can through any means possible, regardless of the facts.

Get out the truth, Democrats, and get out the vote!

36 comments

At its October 7, 2014, meeting, the Brookings County Planning and Zoning Commission approved a conditional-use permit for local dairy man Michael Crinion to build a 3,999-head dairy. According to the permit request, the dairy would take up the northeast quarter at the intersection of 197th Street and 482nd Avenue, one mile west of the Oak Lake Field Station and a few miles west of Lake Hendricks, which straddles the South Dakota–Minnesota border. The land is owned by Jeff Mersbergen, Chris Mersbergen, and LC Olson LLP. The dairy would have three manure storage ponds, each holding over 2.2 million cubic feet of manure. Crinion's application includes agreements with landowners to spread that manure in farm fields mostly to the west.

Mayor Jay Nelson of Hendricks, Minnesota, would rather not have all that manure so close:

"A farm with 2500 dairy cattle is similar in waste load to a city of 411,000 people." [EPA 2004] The proposed dairy upstream of Lake Hendricks would have 3999 cows. Applying this EPA statistic, this dairy could have the pollution equivalent to a city of 657,435 people. The environmental costs of this dairy will be paid by other property owners. Yet the Brookings County government did not send our city official notice of this proposed dairy prior to the Planning and Zoning board hearing. It did not send the Lake Hendricks Improvement Association official notice. It did not send the Oaklake township board official notice. It appears some adjoining land owners to this property were not notified of the hearing while others were given less than 24 hours notice [Jay Nelson, post to "Help Save Lake Hendricks" Facebook page, 2014.10.17].

Mayor Nelson invites interested citizens to meet at 8 a.m. this morning at Hendricks Park to convoy to the Brookings County Commission meeting, where Mayor Nelson's concerns about the dairy are the 9:45 agenda item.

Mayor Nelson might want to seek counsel from South Dakota Rep. Stace Nelson, who effectively organized opposition to a larger Crinion dairy proposed for his backyard near Fulton three years ago. That Hanson County project went down in part because county commissioners broke rules on the issuance and extension of conditional-use permits.

12 comments

I hope more newspaper editorial boards will show the courage that the Mobridge Tribune's Katie Zerr shows in this repudiation of Mike Rounds's fitness for public office. Zerr doesn't say whom we should vote for, but she says quite clearly that the spoiled, deceitful Rounds does not deserve South Dakotans' vote:

Despite what the commercials are telling us, Mike Rounds does not have the same values as most South Dakotans. Listen to what those sound bites are conveying. Think about the dishonesty of the Rounds campaign.

This is the candidate that used information about the ACA robbing $750 million from Medicare in order to frighten seniors despite the fact that the information was false and he knew it. He admitted to that.

This is the candidate that keeps changing his story when pressed about the EB5 Program and his role in it.

It is this candidate who vilified federal stimulus then accepted money earmarked for education and used it to balance the state budget so he could claim he worked with a balanced budget all his years in office.

There are other options besides Mike Rounds [Katie Zerr, "Vote for the Candidate, Not the Political Party," Mobridge Tribune, 2014.10.15].

Democrats, you have a true Democrat on the ballot, Rick Weiland. Republicans, you have two honest men on the ballot who might as well be Republicans—Larry Pressler, the throwback to moderate Reagan Republicanism; and Gordon Howie, the modern Tea Party Republican. Indies, those three men represent a remarkable variety of ideological and policy positions. You can dismiss Mike Rounds from your thinking and still find plenty of options to scratch your Senatorial itch.

44 comments

Oh, no—don't tell me I've got to start agreeing with doctor and State Senator R. Blake Curd:

The orthopedic surgeon steps out from the operating table to encourage our Yes vote on Initiated Measure 17, the "Any Willing Provider" insurance proposal. IM 17 revives a bill defeated in the 2013 Legislature that would allow any health care provider who meets an insurance company's terms (quality of care, billing rates) to participate in that insurer's network.

Short form: all those state employees in Brookings who have to drive down to Sioux Falls to lower their out-of-pocket costs could go to their local hospital, pay lower in-network copays, and miss less work.

The South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations opposes IM 17, contending primarily that Any Willing Provider laws increase health care costs. Klick and Wright (2012) support that contention; however, only the increase in drug expenditures is statistically significant; the minor increases in physician and hospital expenditures is not statistically significant.

South Dakota already has an Any Willing Provider law for pharmacy services (SDCL 58-18-37, on the books since 1990). USD economist Michael Allgrunn and co-author Brandon Haiar (2012) analyze the cost impact of AWP laws specifically affecting physicians and find that a law like IM 17 would actually lower costs.

The cost issue is open for debate and dueling studies. The other major claim opponents make, that IM17 is "another mandate with more government control over health care" sounds entirely bogus:

The only people who would chafe under the perception of government control would be the big hospitals who are selling insurance and limiting their customers to their network. Health care consumers wouldn't feel that government is restricting their decisions; policyholders would experience control over their health care decisions shifting from their insurer to themselves. They would be able to choose from a broader network of providers.

I'm open to the cost debate, but let's put the anxiety over government-run health care to bed. IM 17 really would increase patient choice.

p.s.: No on 17 has scored more YouTube hits on their month-old ad, but Yes on 17 has lots more videos.

27 comments

Not quite 5,000 people have died in this year's Ebola outbreak. One of those deaths has taken place in the United States.

In response, Senator John Thune is advocating bigger government, specifically in the form of banning travel to the U.S. from Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. Senator Thune says he would consider expanding those restrictions.

Ebola spreads only through direct contact with infected bodily fluids. In other words, to catch it on the bus or plane, an Ebola carrier would have to bleed, pee, or poop on your broken skin or mucous membranes.

An estimated 43,000 Americans have died of influenza and pneumonia this year. (The CDC will say that number is hard to pin down and probably less than that, but from 1976 to 2007, influenza killed between 3,000 and 49,000 Americans each year.) Influenza can spread through the air, via coughing, sneezing, or talking.

Guns have probably killed a good 9,000 Americans this year. Drunk driving has put another 27,000 Americans on a permanent travel ban. Yet Senator Thune is not advocating any big government solutions to those deaths.

Senator Thune has a very selective freak-out-o-meter, and an equally selective aversion to big government.

192 comments

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Rick Weiland forges common ground with Independent gubernatorial candidate Mike Myers, telling cannabis advocate Ryan Gaddy that he supports legalizing marijuana for medical use:

Gaddy posts this video in the comment section on Weiland's dogged opposition to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. At first, I thought, "Ryan! Get on topic!" But then I saw the Kurtzian logic: the same conventional wisdom that says conservative four-wheeling South Dakotans support a big oil pipeline says that conservative law-and-order South Dakotans will have a gut reaction against letting folks use pot in any form. Yet Weiland bucks that conventional wisdom on both issues. Weiland appears to understand that personal experience—facing a pipeline in your eminent domained backyard, or seeing a loved one suffer from cancer—changes one's conventional wisdom. Weiland is willing to pass on the easy public position and advocate for those who have learned from those challenging experiences.

Weiland scores bonus points for sporting the bolo tie. I dare you to wear the bolo Thursday night on SDPB, Rick, as you turn to Rounds and say, "The question isn't why I support medical marijuana; the question is why you won't support opening the door for doctors to prescribe a drug that can ease the suffering of our fellow South Dakotans?"

Rounds does indeed slam that door shut in this interview with Gaddy. After catching some offensive lines from Mike Huckabee's speech for Rounds last week (including Huckabee's joke that folks who don't support Rounds shouldn't register to vote) and getting campaign manager Mitch Krebs to make good on an interview request submitted last spring, Gaddy gets Rounds on the records around 5:25 saying he has no interest at all in approving medical marijuana:

88 comments

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