From the 13 member Republican Health Committee that became the Senate version of Obamacare repeal, there was a cut of $770 Billion over 10 years for Medicaid. (And no matter what anybody says, it is a cut.) Senator John Thune, the #3 Republican in the Senate, is from my state (South Dakota) and is one of those members who wants these cuts. I believe that both of our Senators from South Dakota are not doing what is best for our state, just looking out for their party. Why? Take a look at how this will hurt the population.
During Fiscal Year 2013, South Dakota ranked #4 in the percentage of federal dollars as their general budget. 39.0% of the South Dakota General Budget was due to federal funds. So here we are with our United States Senators arguing that we need to have Medicaid funds slashed for the entire country. I agree that we need to cut some federal spending, Medicaid spending is not one of those things that need to be cut. In fact, it is the level of Medicaid spending in South Dakota that has allowed the economy not to follow the budgetary problems of Kansas and the failed experiment of the GOP economic arguments of lower and in some circumstances, no taxes being levied against businesses and individuals.
Talk to the people of rural South Dakota, not those in towns and cities of 15,000 or over for population. They will tell you that the economy isn’t working. They will tell you that prices keep rising, but their wages are not. They will tell you that people and businesses are not investing in their towns. They want to know what our representatives are going to do to help with their economic plight. How they are supposed to fend for their families and loved ones, while working two jobs that pay under $10/hour. They want to know how they can have a community that has enough nurses and doctors for the hospitals and nursing homes that are in that community. These cuts will not help.
Imagine that the Nursing home in your community is one of the top 5 employers in your town. You know what business gets a majority of their funding from the government, including Medicaid? Nursing Homes. You take $77 Billion in funding out of the budget for Medicaid, guess who has to make either cuts or charge more? Nursing Homes. Guess where families have to pay over $6,500 on average to have their elderly family members taken care of in small communities? You guessed it, nursing homes. Now for a family who has the husband and mother working 60 hours each week at $10/hour, they receive $1,200 per week before taxes. A month would bring in $4,800. Tell me how they are supposed to live and pay for their family members stay in the nursing home for a month? I would say government assistance. Now you are taking away some of that assistance. Where does the money that is supposed to help come from? The state of South Dakota? The state passed a state tax on internet sales because they needed more revenue this past year. So I don’t think that the state has enough money to make up what the Medicaid cuts will leave on the table.
It is crazy to think that politicians are willing to see lower-income Americans struggle even more while the wealth gap will increase by their own policies to help wealthier Americans keep more of their own money. But that is where we are. Senator John Thune sold out his own state to do the national GOP’s bidding. That goes for Senator Mike Rounds and Congresswoman Kristi Noem. Unfortunately, there will not be any backlash from the political class here in South Dakota. We are a true red state and cannot get past “culture war” issues like abortion. Otherwise, we might have a congressional delegation in Washington that looks out for their constituents. Not politicians that know they are safe from the voters.