Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Munsterman says Medicaid eligibility must be scaled back in SD

From the Pierre Capital Journal:

Munsterman says Medicaid eligibility must be scaled back in SD

By David Montgomery
Capital Journal staff

FORT PIERRE — Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Munsterman told a Fort Pierre audience he wants to scale back Medicaid eligibility in South Dakota, but cover more people with catastrophic health insurance.

Speaking at an event at the Pizza Ranch in Fort Pierre Monday, the ex-Brookings mayor said health care reform is needed at both the state and federal levels.

In South Dakota, Munsterman acknowledged he was constrained by federal laws but said Medicaid reform is vital for the state’s budget as well as public health.

“We have to get a handle on unfunded mandates,” Munsterman said. “I believe that is a big portion of what is wrecking our budget.”

Medical expenditures cost the state $128 million in the most recent budget — 11 percent of the $1.1 billion budget. The federal government contributed $335 million toward South Dakota medical services.

Munsterman said the state should scale back Medicaid eligibility and provide vouchers to purchase health insurance for catastrophic events.

He also called for more personal responsibility on the part of Medicaid recipients.

“We have a higher rate of medical care within our Medicaid system than other people do who have their own insurance,” he said. “We need to look at deductibles, we need to look at co-pays. We need to have a program that they can engage in, and become responsible, too.”

Though Munsterman called for federal health care reform, he blasted Democratic health reform packages being debated at the federal level as a “double-barrelled shotgun point right at us” and said he would make sure South Dakota’s voice is heard in Congress.

“It’s going to be very important from a political leadership standpoint that as your new governor, I stand up in Washington,” Munsterman said. “If I have to, I would bring the whole legislature with me to voice the opinions of this state so we can protect our individual rights and our state’s rights.”

Munsterman is one of three declared Republicans running for governor. The others are Lt. Gov. Dennis Daugaard, Senate Majority Leader Dave Knudson and Buffalo Gap rancher Ken Knuppe.

Ten people — including two reporters and Secretary of State Chris Nelson, a Republican candidate for Congress — turned out to Munsterman’s event Monday, the 17th in a planned series of 42 events around the state focusing on health care. Munsterman said he is planning to start a similar tour soon focusing on education.

“The benefit is to come up with a good plan for South Dakota,” Munsterman said. “I can come up with ideas and do all the research that I can — but that’s one person. So I’m out listening and testing those ideas in front of people.”

Pierre resident Bob Parsons said he found the event informative — but that not yet persuasive.

“I thought it was very interesting,” Parsons said. “We’re here to find out what these guys are up to — then we’ll decide.”

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