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Interview: Lora Hubbel on Health Care, Common Core, and Economic Development

Lora Hubbel, GOP candidate for governor
Lora Hubbel, GOP candidate for governor

Lora Hubbel says she's running for Governor for the same reason I'm blogging: she just wants to "save South Dakota." And Hubbel and I may not disagree as much as you would think on what South Dakota needs saving from.

Hubbel says she was originally more inclined to save South Dakota by running for U.S. Senate. She was appalled by Mike Rounds's apparent opportunism and lack of true GOP principles. She was also put off by very similar aspects of the Annette Bosworth candidacy (Bosworth was the first ObamaCare doctor in the state, says Hubbel, citing Bosworth's eager fulfillment of the Obama Administration's electronic health records requirements, which Hubbel sees as integral to the ills of the Affordable Care Act).

But Hubbel talked to some friends and fellow pols, prayed about it, and decided she could do just as much good running for Governor against Dennis Daugaard, whom she considers an ideological clone of Rounds. Last year she thought South Dakotans would not elect a woman governor. However, voters she has talked to are changing her mind. She says she's received encouragement from cowboys, old codgers, and others whom she might have thought would be most resistant to putting a woman in charge.

Turning to policy, I asked Hubbel to explain her support for concierge care. In a weekend press release, Hubbel said the model of health care Dr. Merlin Brown is practicing in the Cities would help her kill the Affordable Care Act (which Hubbel consistently refers to as ObamaCare). But in our conversation, she said concierge care, rejecting insurance payments and charging patients directly for primary care at the clinic, could co-exist with the ACA. Whether we want to kill or keep the ACA, Hubbel says we can agree on the following benefits of the Brown model:

  1. Price transparency allows doctors and patients to shop around for the best price, lowering costs through competition.
  2. Payment direct from patients reduces paperwork for doctors.
  3. Rejecting insurance frees doctors to practice as they see fit, without insurers dictating what drugs and procedures they may use.

There's just one political problem with Hubbel's proposal: there isn't really any governmental barrier to South Dakota doctors' adoption of Brown's model of any other model of concierge care. Hubbel says a simple lack of knowledge stops doctors from following Brown's model. Win or lose in the primary, Hubbel says she plans to send information to doctors across the state about concierge care and bring Dr. Brown here to share his experiences and perhaps proselytize. Hubbel doesn't need to be governor to make that happen... although the bully pulpit would help.

Hubbel does see more direct action she could take as governor to stop the implementation of Common Core. She says she would simply veto any funding for the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment field-tested in Sioux Falls and across the state this spring. She'd tell her Department of Education to help schools develop cheaper, less intrusive, less time-consuming tests. And she'd find a way to change state law and allow parents to opt their kids out of the state standardized tests.

But then I asked Hubbel just why we need any standardized tests in the first place. She thought a moment (yes, contrary to easy blog punchlines, conservatives like Hubbel do think). She said Chinese kids beat our kids on tests, but our scholars and workers are still beating them on innovation. Maybe tests are just tradition, said Hubbel, not adding lots of value to our schools.

Hubbel wants to get rid of Common Core to give teachers the freedom to teach without following a government checklist (she says the same thing about the ACA and doctors). She also wants to get rid of South Dakota's embarrassing status of paying teachers the least in the nation. Her two-year-old grandson will be going to school soon. She wants him to have the best teachers, and she says we can't get the best teachers by paying them a pittance. She advocates cutting administrative positions by half and spreading that money out to the teachers.

Hubbel is more eager to share some more wealth with teachers than with the crony capitalists favored by South Dakota's current economic development policies. She worries the state will sell out the Black Hills to Powertech/Azarga and its uranium mining scheme. Hubbel says her father, a geologist, studied the Madison Aquifer and found it "fragile". Hubbel says given what she currently knows about the Black Hills, its water, an uranium mining, she would block Powertech's proposal (that makes two gubernatorial candidates against Powertech).

Hubbel says the EB-5 program is another example of South Dakota putting money over our better interests. She shares Senator Chuck Grassley's concerns that EB-5 investors are insufficiently vetted and that the program opens a door for espionage. Hubbel says the program is too corrupt to continue.

Asked whether she would take trips overseas to promote South Dakota businesses, as Governor Daugaard is doing this week in China and Mongolia, Hubbel says no. If a business is big enough to seek business overseas, taxpayers should not foot their bill.

Hubbel says government should simply stay out of business. The temptation to corruption and favoritism is too great. Under such an attitude, it's hard to say what would be left for the Governor's Office of Economic Development to do. Hubbel says if she wins the election, a lot of folks currently in GOED will be looking for different jobs.

I can't agree with Hubbel that South Dakota needs saving from the Affordable Care Act. But she could do much worse to South Dakota than promoting concierge care and transparent pricing.

As for education and economic development, well, dang, we seem to agree that South Dakota would be better off if we tested our kids less, paid our teachers more, and acted like free-market Republicans and kept government out of picking winners and losers in business. And Hubbel even agrees that uranium mining in the Black Hills is a bad idea. (Lora, I know some friends who might like to party with you and Joe Lowe in Custer Saturday night).


  1. mike from iowa 2014.05.15

    Maybe its me,but I absolutely cringe and melt into a pool of garp when I hear a pol say they've prayed about running for office. It is a total deal breaker for my vote.

  2. Tim 2014.05.15

    Mike, agreed. Maybe it's a problem I need to get over, I don't trust republican politicians. I have lived in SD to long I guess.

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.05.15

    Mike, Tim, I cringe a bit as well. Practically, is there any meaningful difference between saying, "I prayed about my decision" and "I thought hard about my decision"?

  4. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.05.15

    As one who used to pray about decisions, but found that I made too many bad ones after having prayed about it, I quit doing it. But I don't think that the praying caused me to make the bad decisions, so I have no problem with that.

    However, I owe Tara Volesky a huge, "I apologize". While I won't get involved in her campaign, I can definitely vote for Laura in the primary, not that I would have voted for DD before this. I don't know if it is Cory's writing is better than her speaking, but Ms Hubbel sure comes across a lot saner than I thought that she was.

    I particularly like her ideas on concierge care, but wonder about major medical care. I naturally like her protecting the Hills and her ideas about getting government out of business. (Isn't the marriage of business and government the basis of fascism?)

  5. John Tsitrian 2014.05.15

    On her website she refers to ACA and Common Core as "totalitarian takeovers of healthcare and education." She says that before we became a nation "we were a productive people whose main focus was to evangelize the native peoples and be a beacon for Christianity." I believe she did indeed "pray hard" about her decision to run, but I doubt that she "thought hard" about it.

  6. JeniW 2014.05.15

    How would Lora deal with medical emergencies when there is no opportunity to "shop around?" Someone having a heart attack, or someone with a hot appendix cannot shop around.

    Plus, shopping around is already available, I have done it with elective procedures, and those who seek plastic surgery do the shopping around around to get the price of the surgeon, the facility, the provider that renders the patient "asleep."

    Many people do not do the shopping around because they know that their insurance is going to cover part of the procedure, but that does not mean it cannot be done.

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.05.15

    John, I hope no governor takes us back to those good old days of evangelizing.

  8. Steve Sibson 2014.05.15

    'is there any meaningful difference between saying, "I prayed about my decision" and "I thought hard about my decision"?'

    Yes there is: the former puts the authority with God, the later thinks they are their own god.

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.05.15

    Exactly, Steve: saying "I prayed about it" is an attempt to invoke divine authority to justify one's decision and tamp down opposition. "I prayed about it" seems equivalent to "God told me this is a good idea." As Lanny notes, prayer doesn't seem to guarantee any better decisions than those made by non-prayerful contemplation. Annette Bosworth prays for the camera every day, and that doesn't seem to be giving her decisions any greater rationality or effectiveness.

  10. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.05.15

    But praying or not, Hubbel's positions on teacher pay and EB-5 aren't too bad. What can we Dems do to tap those sentiments among folks on Hubbel's side of the spectrum to get things done?

  11. mike from iowa 2014.05.15

    Sounds to me like she is asking someone else to make tough decisions and therefore it won't be her fault when the decisions are wrong. Praying is an excuse to not have to do any critical thinking for yourself.

  12. Rhino Lynn 2014.05.15

    If Lora loses in the primary will she endorse Mike Meyers?

  13. Steve Sibson 2014.05.15

    "prayer doesn't seem to guarantee any better decisions than those made by non-prayerful contemplation"

    When you are your own authority, legal corruption (Crony Capitalism/Neo-Facism) or coveting (redistribution/Neo-Marxism) are valid options.

  14. Steve Sibson 2014.05.15

    "it won't be her fault when the decisions are wrong"

    So you believe God makes wrong decisions?

  15. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.05.15 which case, Steve, saying "I prayed about it" adds no weight to the reliability of any decision, as Lanny attested.

  16. Steve Sibson 2014.05.15

    "I doubt that she "thought hard" about it"

    So based on what logic did you come to that conclusion?

  17. Steve Sibson 2014.05.15

    'saying "I prayed about it" adds no weight to the reliability of any decision'

    Are you speaking from experience Cory? Or you just think that is so?

  18. mike from iowa 2014.05.15

    I'd love to patent or trademark the idea that there are no atheists in foxholes. Think of the money I could extort from Russian military every time a commie jumped into a foxhole. No-I don't believe there is a god,at least not a christian god that makes wrong decisions.

  19. David Bergan 2014.05.15

    I'm skeptical that praying can ascertain the will of God. See:

    But that doesn't mean praying is bad. Even if there is no supernatural substance to prayer there can be natural benefits...

    a sense of calm instead of needlessly worrying (eg worrying every day that you'll get laid off)

    a sense of appreciation and gratitude for things that have gone well in your life that you have no control over (eg healthy children)

    a focus on the important things in life (eg relationships, moments with family)

    a reflection on one's bad choices and impetus to apologize and turn around (eg stop an addiction, repent from actions or attitudes that hurt/devalue others)

    a moment during the day where you contemplate the vastness of the universe and time, and the relative insignificance of one's life and plans (eg how does my daily routine measure up to a legacy like Martin Luther King?)

    Prayer and meditation can (naturalistically) slay many neuroses, but, of course, it can also exacerbate them. The things I listed can be taken to extremes. Too little worrying leads to neglect. Too much reflection on one's sins can lead to depression. It's all about balance.

    On a related note, I cannot think of any "good" reason to brag about one's prayer life in public. I hate pandering, which is why I will never be a politician. Can't Lora just pray in her closet?

    Kind regards,

  20. Steve Sibson 2014.05.15

    "Can't Lora just pray in her closet?"

    I echo that in regard to those who exclusively "think".

  21. Jim in DC 2014.05.15

    "the former puts the authority with God, the later thinks they are their own god."

    So just because I can handle the critical thinking in my life without prayer makes me a god? Wow, I can't wait to start tossing lightning bolts around. Wait, I don't believe there is a god so that fun just ain't going to happen.

  22. Steve Sibson 2014.05.15

    "critical thinking in my life without prayer makes me a god"

    No it does not make you a god, it just makes you think you are a god.

  23. Roger Cornelius 2014.05.15

    "I prayed about it", "I asked God about it", "God told me to run", etc. are phrases designed to play to religious and evangelical base of the Republican Party.
    Bosworth is an excellent example of this, listen to her daily devotionals and then read the comments from her out of state supporters. Bosworth utters the word pray, and the gullible right will line up to vote for her, not knowing or caring that she is a crook.

  24. Kurt Evans 2014.05.15

    Roger Cornelius wrote:
    >"'I prayed about it', 'I asked God about it', 'God told me to run', etc. are phrases designed to play to religious and evangelical base of the Republican Party."

    Speaking from experience, sometimes such phrases are uttered somewhat reluctantly in honest response to direct questions from journalists.

  25. Jim in DC 2014.05.15

    Sibson -- "No it does not make you a god, it just makes you think you are a god"

    I am not so full of shite to think I am a god by making basic life decisions on my own. Dude, you are out there! Reel it back in. Come back to earth. Have a strong cup of coffee.

  26. Roger Cornelius 2014.05.15

    Mr. Tristan quotes Lora as saying "before we became a nation, we were a productive people whose main focus was to evangelize the native peoples and be a beacon for Christianity".
    I would take sharp exception with Lora's comment and if she is thinking clearly, would not use that comment at the debate in Kyle. She'll get eaten up.
    Two things occurred to me, first the "main focus" of pioneers was not to bring Christianity to native peoples, their "main focus" was greed. Christianity was used as one of the tools to steal land and resources. Nothing more, nothing less.
    For centuries many tribes have fought Christian assimilation and still do. In fact, after many years of Christian indoctrination and seeing the disruption it has cost the tribes, more and more young people in particular are rejecting Christian religion and seeking the "mythology" of the old ways.

  27. Mike Armstrong 2014.05.15

    Hubbel invited frackers in to fix our state's groundwater. Don't trust her on uranium mining either.

  28. grudznick 2014.05.15

    Mr. Sibby, are you actively supporting Ms. Hubbel for Governor and if she is elected are you promised a spot on her cabinet?

  29. Tara Volesky 2014.05.15

    Thanks Lanny, even if you didn't apologize, I still like you. You are a very intelligent and logical man. Lora scares a lot of people, because of how the SDWC has portrayed her. Well, she is no different than you or me. She might pray a little more, but that's OK, She does have a strong faith, but what's wrong with that? She doesn't advertise it. But until you really get to know her, she really does care for the little guy and the people who have been marginalized and don't have a voice. Hey, she is going to the Rez, and I guarantee you, the Natives are going to love her because she is honest and humble. They know a phony when they see one, and trust me...Lora is no phony. Dennis where are you?

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