South Dakota's "Medicaid Challenges and Opportunities" Task Force meets again on June 25 and 26 in Sioux Falls to further discuss expanding Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. (Hey, did you notice the Governor put the word Challenges first in the name? In admin-speak, don't you usually put the negative word last?) They will likely hear from the South Dakota State Medical Association, whose doctors endorsed the Medicaid expansion at their annual meeting last weekend:

“People who don’t have health insurance live sicker and die younger. Many of them are working people who just aren’t making enough money,” Dr. Daniel Heinemann, the association president, said in an interview Monday in Sioux Falls [Jon Walker, "S.D. Doctors' Group: Expand Medicaid," that Sioux Falls paper, 2013.06.04].

Regular readers here already know the many benefits the Medicaid expansion will bring to South Dakota: lower health care costs, more jobs, more efficient use of resources, big federal dollars to bolster the state budget and boost the economy, saved lives, and better satisfaction of our moral imperative to help others. A new Rand (no, not Ayn) study finds that South Dakota and 13 other states so far saying no to the Medicaid expansion will give up $8.4 billion a year in federal payments, leave 3.6 million human beings uninsured, and spend $1 billion more in 2016 on uncompensated care (the price we pay to cover uninsured folks when they can't take the pain any more and stumble into the emergency room with their aggravated maladies).

Pretty much all you've got left in the Con column is Florence Thompson's inchoate cries of socialism. Let us dignify that silliness with a response from famed socialism fighter Ronald Wilson Reagan:

Leaders in the states that have decided against expanding have often invoked Reagan conservatism as the reason to oppose extending Medicaid health care coverage to more people. After all, doesn't Reagan embody modern conservatism? He cut taxes, cut government red tape and fought the growth of entitlements.

Yes, he did all those things. However, he also expanded Medicaid, not just once but several times.

For example, in 1986, President Reagan let states add poor children and pregnant women to Medicaid. And after learning that disabled children could receive Medicaid care only in hospitals and nursing homes, he let states provide them care at home also. Ohio resisted both expansions for a decade but saw powerful results for some of our most vulnerable citizens once we made them [Ohio Governor John Kasich, "Reagan's Compassionate Medicaid Expansion," USA Today, 2013.06.02].

Governor Kasich reminds us that, like Reagan, we can and should be fiscally responsible, pragmatic, and compassionate. Reagan expanded Medicaid; so should we.