Weather Forecast


MERCER: Republicans feel safe battering Obamacare

PIERRE — Time for a confession: As a human being, I don't understand why so many people want to repeal Obamacare.

The whole point of the Affordable Care Act, I thought, was to require that almost everybody have health coverage, either through insurance or the government.

If you don't like President Barack Obama, or you don't like Democrats, or you don't like features of Obamacare, I understand.

But tell me this: Why don't you want to increase the number of people covered by health insurance?

Obamacare should be a godsend to South Dakota insurance businesses.

Our Legislature passed a state law last year requiring that Obamacare policies purchased by South Dakotans must be obtained through a South Dakota insurance producer.

Two of the key lobbyists in that 2013 effort are working on the U.S. Senate campaign of former Gov. Mike Rounds, who runs an insurance and real estate business.

Yet repealing Obamacare is the main topic in South Dakota this spring for the five Republicans, including Mike, who are seeking their party's nomination for U.S. Senate.

It seems mathematically unlikely that Congress would repeal Obamacare during the next two years while Obama is still in office.

Opponents of Obamacare would need two-thirds majorities in both the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives to override a presidential veto.

Meanwhile state Attorney General Marty Jackley is taking another route.

Jackley, a Republican, announced Friday that he added South Dakota to 20 states claiming in a federal lawsuit that Obamacare was passed illegally.

The legal argument is the U.S. Constitution requires that federal tax increases originate in the U.S. House. Obamacare resulted from Senate amendments to a House bill on military homeowner tax breaks.

Our Legislature routinely does this type of maneuver. It's called a hoghouse. A bill is gutted of its original purpose and passed in altogether different form.

The federal lawsuit will determine whether the U.S. Supreme Court holds Congress to a higher standard than we hold our lawmakers in South Dakota.

Somehow the 2014 Republican Senate primary in South Dakota has turned into a question of whether grandpa will still be able to get his new knee or new hip.

That's because Obamacare is portrayed as siphoning funds from Medicare.

Here's the part where I become confused.

It would be mean if a retired person on Medicare doesn't get that replacement joint, right?

But wouldn't it be just as mean to take away Obamacare coverage for a lower-income worker, who is too young for Medicare, and makes too much to qualify for Medicaid, and is paying for an Obamacare policy?

South Dakota voters set the tone two years ago. They rejected a ballot measure that sought to raise the state sales tax by 1 cent.

Half of the money was to go to K-12 schools. The other half was for Medicaid.

The vote was 151,498 yes and 198,586 no.

Only five counties voted in favor of IM 15. They were Todd, Shannon, Marshall, Clay and Brookings.

So politically I understand why the Republican candidates feel safe saying they want to repeal Obamacare.

Majority rules.