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Rounds Not Rational on Rationing

GOP Senate candidate Mike Rounds can't tell the truth about Medicare. He can't even tell a consistent story about his own position on government-run health care.

Consider Rounds's statements about the Veterans Health Administration and the Affordable Care Act in this in-depth report from Northern Plains News. He says both programs are engaged in rationing, because rationing is a big scary word Republicans use to make us think we're in some leaky European lifeboat with Marxists hoarding provisions while Lady Astor swoons at the stern.

But notice that a guy who cries rationing is saying not enough health care is being dished out, at least to people he likes, if not to people in general. Rounds, unlike the conservative he claims to be, appears to believe that there's plenty of health care to go around, and he wants us to pay for it. Consider his statement on veterans' health care:

A lack of doctors and hiding behind bureaucracy to meet arbitrary goals, according to Rounds, are just ways the VA system meters out health care to veterans.

“Health care shouldn’t be rationed,” Rounds said in an interview Monday (June 2, 2014). “They should be allowed to go to another health organization” [Todd Epp, "Rounds Says the Federal Government Is in the Health Care Rationing Business," Northern Plains News, 2014.06.10].

Sending veterans to other health care providers sounds like a good idea to the U.S. House: they unanimously passed a bill to that effect yesterday. HR 4810 would let the VA outsource care for two years to clear the queue. But even reimbursing non-VA facilities at VA, Medicare, or Tricare rates, the VA will spend more money than it does currently. So conservative Mike Rounds is saying he wants more government-funded health care, not less.

Interestingly, Rounds doesn't trust the government to set reimbursement rates high enough to make providing some health services worth private hospitals' while. To pound this fear home, Rounds trots out his wealthy old dad again to scare old folks about the Affordable Care Act:

...Rounds is afraid the Independent Payment Advisory Board would set doctor reimbursements so low for lifesaving procedures for elders like his 86-year-old father Don, who has had a history of heart problems and operations, as to make them unprofitable. Thus, physicians and hospitals won’t offer the services or severely limit the number they perform.

“It’s a way of rationing health care. It’s wrong. It’s not what we want for our dads, our grandmas, for our moms, for our kids,” Rounds said [Epp, 2014.06.10].

Again, Rounds has two logical policy responses. He can advocate higher reimbursement rates, which means spending more tax dollars on health care. If Rounds doesn't want to spend more tax dollars on health care, then deep down he must be o.k. with rationing, just not rationing done by government. In his calls to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Rounds has yet to enunciate any policy other than free market voodoo, which also rations health care, but ensures that the biggest rations go to rich folks like his dad and his campaign donors.

Rationing is a scare word used to distract us from what Mike Rounds is really thinking. He's a conservative advocating either more government spending on health care or less affordable care for most Americans. Rounds is not offering consistent policy; he's just saying stuff to get votes and hoping we won't notice until he's in power.


  1. 96 Tears 2014.06.11

    Rounds is amoral. Through the years, this guy has come clearer into view. He is always surrounded by others who seem to protect him and to do his thinking for him. He has no empathy outside that circle of staff and family, which I think explains why he thinks his answer on Medicare is acceptable to rational South Dakotans. It doesn't affect him or the elite posse around him, so why care?

  2. mike from iowa 2014.06.11

    Healthcare,like buying politicians and free speech,should not be rationed if you have the money to pay for them. If you don't have the money,you aren't truly an American.

  3. owen reitzel 2014.06.11

    Rationing has been going on long before the ACA came into effect.
    My wife is a breast cancer survior and she has Sanford health insurance. She had to see a Sanford cancer doctor and had to go to Sanford for surgery. An Avera hospital is closer to us so we had to get approval through Sanford for her to take her radation at the Avera Hospital.
    Rounds has selective memory or he's lying. You decide

  4. Jerry 2014.06.11

    Mr. Rounds says that he was basically just there in Washington to say that the ACA would not work and then they gave him $20,000.00 buckeroos because he was such a nice little man for saying so. Right.. As far as the lack of doctors and facility management that is plaguing the VA right now and has over the years, Mr. Rounds is correct. What he does not say is that republican obstructionists like John Thune and his sidekick Ms. NOem have been instrumental in voting against the funding to provide that to the veterans, and Thune was a huge part of the filibuster that happened just before the crap hit the fan. Keep in mind that Rounds would win the seat, we can expect more of the same filibustering to keep benefits from veterans. As poor as our private sector is for doctors and hospitals, Rounds and the rest of the republicans would dearly love to privatize the VA. With respect to rationing, I would further point that Governor Daugaard, another person reckless with the truth, continues to deny healthcare to working poor veterans in South Dakota.

    Something else too, if you think the VA is bad, which it is not here, call the private sector for an appointment that you need pronto. Get ready to hear that your needs will not be met for at least 2 weeks and mostly you will hear a month or more out. That is why the Urgent Care business is thriving.

  5. John Tsitrian Post author | 2014.06.11

    Idiotic. Every commodity and service is "rationed." Hard to believe that this pseudo-intellect is likely to be our next U.S. Senator.

  6. Douglas Wiken 2014.06.11

    "pseudo-human" is more appropriate for Rounds. He might flunk a Turing test.

  7. 96 Tears 2014.06.11

    Exactly, Doug. He seems incapable of understanding regular folks. A person can be fabulously wealthy as Rounds is, but it's also possible to understand the everyday challenges of real folks. Rounds seems to lack that capacity.

  8. Jerry 2014.06.11

    Mr. Rounds speaks of the insurance needs of his father like a novice. If I were a customer of his company, I would turn tail and run like hell if he is that ignorant of the insurance he peddles. Or maybe Don the father could contact the Division of Insurance and turn Marion in to collect on his Errors and Omission Insurance, what a dolt.

  9. Joan Brown 2014.06.11

    Private insurance companies do have their choice of doctors that people have to go to. I know somebody that lives 50-70 miles from Sioux Falls in a town that has a good hospital and good doctors including specialists. She had medical insurance through her employer and anytime she had to see a doctor she had to come to Sioux Falls. I don't know what health insurance the employer had, but I always thought it was dumb that a person had to drive that far one way to see a doctor, when they weren't feeling well.

  10. Jerry 2014.06.11

    Whats that knocking I hear? It is Joan Brown knocking on the door to Medicare for all! You see the madness of provider networks and all the hoopla that accompanies it. Medicare for all would eliminate a whole lot of unnecessary paper shuffling that does absolutely nothing for the patient except drive up costs.

  11. Jerry 2014.06.12

    Mr. Rounds needs an enema as he is full of it.

    This is from the smart guys not the snake oil insurance salesman. Medicare is doing just fine thank you and will even do better thanks to Obamacare ACA. Seniors will now have the satisfaction in knowing they have a program that will stick with them as long as they give the boot to the republicans who want to steal it from them like Mr. Rounds, Mr. Thune and the dust bunny.

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