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Preview of the 2014 SD Legislative Session

Jan 06, 2014 02:29PM ● By MED Editor

The 2014 Session of the South Dakota State Legislature has much in store for the region's healthcare providers. The Governor’s Budget Address laid out the monetary parameters around which SDAHO’s messaging on the Budget will take shape.  And then there are the other 500 bills that will likely emerge during the Session.

This is what is on our radar thus far:

·         Some general information about health care costs and the directions health care delivery are taking in the near term and long term.  The basic message is that health care’s cost curve is bending.

·         Medicaid: SDAHO is grateful for the 3% update being proposed by the Governor.  But for several of our members, we are still not back to payment rates offered as far back as 2010.

·         Medicaid Eligibility Expansion:  SDAHO continues to be a strong supporter of expansion.  Expansion can take several forms and while the Association is not wedded to one particular model, the coverage plan must maximize federal payment for coverage and provide coverage for the entire affected population, i.e., individuals between 52% and 138% of poverty.

·         Medical School Enrollment:  The Governor has proposed expanding class size in the Medical School by 11.  SDAHO is supportive.

·         Other Legislation:  This is a fluid list, which typically grows longer as more presentations are made.  Initially we will be talking about legislation that would curtail many of the reforms made to health care delivery meant to moderate cost increases.

The Federal Scene: 

On the Medicare “Doc Fix”, it appears that an outline for addressing the issue are coming together on a bi-partisan basis but the “pay-fors” have not yet been identified.  Most are now saying that the Medicare Physician payment levels will be extended for yet another 3 months while a more comprehensive package is assembled for this spring.

One other point of emphasis:  The most important part of the legislative process is your participation. Typically, we have administrators, board members, and other staff contacting local legislators.  Physicians, this is YOUR chance to connect with those legislators and tell them about health care delivery in their legislative districts.  It also gives you chance to establish or improve lines of communication during the session. 

Remember the goals of an effective advocate:  (1) A legislator will call you for advice on how to vote on a measure related to health care and (2) When that legislator is speaking on the floor of the House or Senate or in Committee, he/she is doing so with your feedback in mind. 

And so, the 2014 Session begins.  As always, there are challenges ahead.  It will be your active involvement in the Session that allows health care delivery and coverage to be addressed fairly and adequately over the next three months.