Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released a new version of the health care reform plan Thursday in an attempt to get 50 senators to agree how to move forward with their repeal of Obamacare.

As we know, things have not been going well for the Republican leader as he attempts to thread the needle on a new way for Americans to get health care.

At first blush, it looks like they are going to pump some more money into it, create some sort of bare bones plan for the sickest among us and try to hold costs down through high-risk pools.

However, it still pushes Medicaid back to the states and eliminates the individual mandate.

The new version leaves tax increases in place for couples making more than $250,000 year. It allocates another $70 billion – on top of the previous $100 billion – for states to help keep premiums down. And there’s another $45 billion to fight opioid abuse.

At this point, I’m not sure if this is a conservative plan or not.

It seems like as long as they can say they repealed and replaced Obamacare, it doesn’t really matter how it works. And this plan doesn’t seem any more likely to pass than the last one.

So, here we are again.

Americans need – deserve – a reliable, affordable system of health care. I’m not certain if this proposal is any sort of magic bullet, but I doubt it. Even if McConnell can arm twist 50 senators into agreeing with it – and that seems unlikely – it’s still different from the House version.

That means they’ll have to sit down and work out the differences.

Who thinks that can happen? President Trump just wants to sign something and it doesn’t seem to matter what’s in it.

So I’m concerned, bordering on frightened, that working class Americans will be set adrift with an ever-increasing bill for care.

I’m concerned, bordering on livid, that making it harder for people to have health insurance just means that responsibility for taking care of our citizens who can’t pay will just fall back on the hospital systems, many of which can ill-afford to cover it.

I’m concerned, bordering on incensed, that Congress and the president are more concerned about the 2018 election than solving the festering issue of health care.

This is very bad news for South Dakota.

Historically, we haven’t spent as much on Medicaid – the program for low-income citizens – on a per capita basis. We also opted out of the expansion under Obamacare. This means that if it’s capped, we are one of the losers.

This in a state where with high rates of uninsured people and where we rely heavily on Medicaid to help people.

Before you think, however, that all those poor people should go out and find jobs and we wouldn’t have this problem, remember who is on Medicaid in South Dakota – it’s the elderly and disabled.

  • More than 56 percent elderly in SD nursing homes are dependent upon Medicaid for their services. Many other elderly South Dakotans use Medicaid to pay for services to stay in their homes.
  • About 3,500 people with developmental disabilities
  • 10,000 with mental health or substance abuse issues receive care through centers that receive Medicaid.
  • Pregnant women who get pre-natal care
  • 50 percent of South Dakota children rely on Medicaid or Chip during the first year of life.

The potential affect on South Dakota from this debate is enormous. And it doesn’t seem like things are getting better in Congress.

Republicans would be better served to drop the partisan posturing and build the best system possible. The American people will reward them for a generation.

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