Medicaid task force works on draft report

The state task force on Medicaid opportunities and challenges is working on the final version of its report today in Pierre. The 19-member panel was appointed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard and its draft version of the report reflects the efforts by the participants. The report’s executive summary is yet to be completed, but the draft uses a five-section approach:

1. — General background;

2. — State decision points;

3. — Medicaid expansion findings;

4. — Medicaid expansion findings (pros and cons); and

5. — Implementation recommendations if the governor and the Legislature decide to proceed with Medicaid expansion.

The draft stands at 42 pages. The implementation recommendations point to how the Legislature and governor might fashion legislation, rules and policies. One key point in the recommendations is a “circuit breaker” that would allow South Dakota to immediately terminate the program if the federal share of funding falls below the promised 90 percent. This has been done by other states, according to the report.

Other recommendations include payment reform, such as for outpatient services; start-up to coincide with a July 1 start of a state fiscal year, with six months for organization and start-up; investigate cost-sharing by Medicaid patients; consider strains on healthcare workforce, especially in dentistry; establish a monitoring system regarding access and quality; look for ways to use additional Medicaid funds to invest in more access and preventative care; resolve outstanding issues with the federal government before committing to expansion; and look into how Medicaid expansion and federal health-insurance exchange coverage potentially can be blended.

The task force’s final report is due Sept. 15. It appears to be a good road map for the decisions ahead, especially for legislators who will have to make many complex decisions in the overall busy-ness of the 2014 session.

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About Bob Mercer

I am a newspaper reporter in Pierre where I cover state government, issues and politics for the Aberdeen American News, the Black Hills Pioneer, the Mitchell Daily Republic, the Pierre Capital Journal, the Rapid City Journal, the Watertown Public Opinion and the Yankton Press & Dakotan. I began covering the Legislature in 1985 and have lived in Pierre since December 1986. I grew up in Wisconsin, worked my way through college, took my first full-time newspapers jobs in Wyoming, and have lived in South Dakota since the summer of 1984 when I moved to Aberdeen to join the American News. I worked for the Rapid City Journal as its state government reporter in Pierre from late 1992 through late 1998. I spent four years as press secretary and a senior aide to Gov. Bill Janklow during his fourth and final term from late 1998 through 2002. I returned to journalism in January 2003 as a self-employed reporter, providing state government coverage to the Mitchell, Watertown, Spearfish, Pierre and, depending on the year, Aberdeen newspapers. In 2008, the Aberdeen American News offered to hire me as full-time member of the AAN staff, with my reports continuing to be available to the Mitchell, Watertown, Spearfish, Pierre, Yankton and Rapid City papers. The new arrangement has been in effect since January 2009 as the seven papers continue their remarkable dedication to their readers and the general public, as the only South Dakota news outlets with a full-time reporter covering state government in Pierre throughout the year. In addition to focusing on the Legislature during the annual winter session and its various activities during the interim periods between sessions, I spend many days throughout the year -- traveling as often necessary -- to cover state government boards and commissions which oversee the state universities, technical institutes, outdoors, water, environment, business, public schools, banking, agriculture, utilities, health care and various other areas of public interest. I purposely don't register to vote because of my profession; the last time I recall voting in a presidential election was the first time, 1976, when I had just turned 18. I think I voted for Jimmy Carter over Gerald Ford. Make of that what you want, just don't make much of it.

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