Differences on health care emerge in gubernatorial debate
Smith and Quint meet on statewide TV; Noem declines invite
Democratic candidate Jamie Smith, left, and Libertarian candidate Tracey Quint debate Monday night on South Dakota Public Broadcasting. The empty podium was for Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, who declined an invitation to participate. (Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)
SIOUX FALLS — Differences in health-care policy emerged between two candidates for governor of South Dakota who participated in a televised debate Monday night on South Dakota Public Broadcasting.
Democratic candidate Jamie Smith said he supports raising the reimbursement rates paid to medical providers that care for Medicaid patients.
“When you lose $50 a day on every patient you’re taking care of, you can’t do that. You can’t do it very long,” Smith said.
Medicaid is a federal-state health insurance program for low-income people. Smith also said he supports the state constitutional amendment on the ballot Nov. 8 that would expand Medicaid eligibility. South Dakota is one of 12 states that has not accepted federal incentives in the 2010 Affordable Care Act to expand coverage to more people.
Smith said he’d appoint his running mate, Jennifer Keintz, to head up a task force related to Medicaid rates, the viability of rural health-care providers, and related issues.
“We’ve been talking about this for a very long time,” Smith said. “As long as I’ve been in the Legislature, it’s been a crisis.”
Smith is a member of the state House of Representatives, a realtor and former educator from Sioux Falls.
The Libertarian candidate, Tracey Quint, also of Sioux Falls, disagreed with Smith.
“I’m not 100 percent in favor of Medicaid expansion,” Quint said.
She proposed using taxes on medical marijuana – and also recreational marijuana, if it’s legalized by voters on Nov. 8 – to help offset health care costs.
Incumbent Republican Gov. Kristi Noem declined an invitation to participate in the debate, and has accepted only one earlier debate invitation during the campaign. South Dakota Public Broadcasting included an empty podium for her.
Noem attended a Salute to Veterans event Monday night at the Military Heritage Alliance in Sioux Falls. Her campaign also issued a news release prior to the debate accusing Smith of violating campaign-finance laws. The Noem campaign said Smith failed to list the addresses of contributors in his latest campaign-finance report.
Noem’s communications director, Ian Fury, said of Smith in the release, “How can we trust him to follow the laws of our state and faithfully execute the duties of Governor? We are calling for an immediate investigation into these violations.”
Smith, responding to a question about the allegation during the debate, called the matter a “clerical error” that was being corrected.
Smith also criticized Noem’s decision to attend an event in Sioux Falls while skipping the debate.
“I just wish the governor was here to debate,” Smith said. “You can do both. You can support our veterans, and debate.”
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