Parsley’s Weekly Report

By Rep. Parsley, District 8
The first five weeks and the first half of the 88th legislative session have come to an end.
As I stated in last week’s column, one of the major pieces of legislation for this session has passed both the House and the Senate, and this week the Governor signed into law the so-called “Criminal Reform Act,” or SB 70.
This past week the pace picked up, and both of the committees I serve on had full slates of bills. In fact the House State Affairs committee met twice on Wednesday in order to clear our calendar of bills.
A number of the bills we addressed in House State Affairs dealt with veterans issues, including declaring two working holidays for the state. The first, the POW/MIA, would designate the third Friday in September as a working holiday, and the seventh of August would be recognized as Purple Heart Day. The committee also took action to send a bill to the Appropriations Committee to restore funding for County Veterans Services Officers. Funding for these Veterans Services Offices was cut in 2011 and restoration is vital, given all the veterans who are returning  from Afghanistan and other areas of conflict.
A very interesting discussion on the expansion of Medicaid was presented by Dr. Vernon Smith on behalf of the Council of State Governments. The Council of State Governments is a non-partisan organization that provides training and research for state legislatures in all 50 states.
Dr. Smith told us that today 21 states have opted to expand Medicaid. He also provided us factual information on what the Affordable Care Act says about the cost share for Medicaid expansion post 2020. Dr. Smith said the law is very clear that, as written, the cost share for the states post 2020 when the 90/10 percent split is in full force will remain 90/10 for future years. Any law is subject to change, but this did answer questions regarding what the cost to the state may be post 2020.
As I have written in the past, I am still very hopeful that we can expand Medicaid and provide medical coverage for the 48,000 additional South Dakotans who today are not covered by any type of insurance.
As the Governor has pointed out several times regarding the Criminal Reform Act, these were fact-based decisions relying on information provided by the Pew Foundation. This is the proper way to make decisions, and now it is time to use the facts to make the decision on Medicaid expansion, and I believe the facts show little or no risk but rather a large benefit for all of the citizens of the state.
The benefits come in the form of security for those who do not have any form of health insurance today and reduced cost for those who have seen their insurance cost rise to pay for the uninsured.
If you believe this is something that makes sense for South Dakota, I would encourage you to contact members of the legislature and encourage them to support Medicaid expansion.
As always I am interested in your thoughts on these issues and other issues important to you and encourage you to contact me at rep.parsley@state.sd.us.
Have a great week!

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