Parsley’s Weekly Review

By Rep. Scott Parsley, Dist. 8
With only two weeks left in the main run of the legislation session, the pace has begun to accelerate. Wednesday of last week which is known as “crossover” day was a very long day. We adjourned the House for the day at 10:15 p.m. The House had nearly 20 bills to deal with on that day in order to ensure that every bill that had passed out of committee had its hearing on the House floor.
Among those bills were several controversial bills including HB 1142, the so-called “any willing provider” bill. This bill will end the practice of insurance companies negotiating with certain providers for better rates, and will allow the insured to seek any doctor they wish regardless of the cost. This bill passed the House and is now on its way to the Senate for action.
Another very controversial bill is HB 1237, which requires a waiting period to be three working days before a woman may have an abortion. The law today requires a woman to receive counseling and wait 72 hours before being able to receive an abortion; this bill excludes weekends and holidays when counting the 72 hours. The bill passed the House and is now on its way to the Senate.
We have now begun taking up Senate bills in my committees and must have everything through the second house by March 5, so we have a very busy two weeks ahead of us.
Discussion continued this week on expanding Medicaid coverage with a joint hearing of the House and Senate Health and Human Services Committee last Wednesday. Testimony was heard from more than 20 individuals and providers with the vast majority in favor of expanding Medicaid with two individuals in opposition. The testimony generally focused on the cost of not expanding Medicaid in terms of those not covered accessing medical services at emergency rooms with no ability to pay and that cost being passed on to those who have insurance.
Testimony was also presented addressing the loss in productivity and inability to maintain employment. Many who have no medical coverage don’t get early treatment, and what may have been a rather simple medical issue, turns into a big medical issue and the individual is unable to continue employment.
There is no easy answer to this issue. As I have written in the past, according to the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation in 2010 (the most recent year data is available) almost 180,000 South Dakotans, or about 40 percent of our work force, had an income of under $11.50 an hour. At this level of income it is very difficult, if not impossible, to afford health care insurance.
As has been documented many times, we have about 48,000 South Dakotans who would qualify for expanded Medicaid should we expand Medicaid coverage. Of these 48,000 about half will have income high enough to qualify them for the insurance exchanges that will begin in January of 2014. This still leaves about 24,000 South Dakotans who need coverage that would be provided through Medicaid expansion.
As always I am very interested to hear from you about issues that are important to you. Please contact me at rep.parsley@state.sd.us.

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