Sunday, September 24, 2006

Billion Outlines Heath Care Plan

Democratic challenger for governor Jack Billion outlined his plan for heath care in South Dakota during a get together in Yankton (subscription) Friday.
"We want to establish a basic health care policy that can be sold by insurers around the state of South Dakota," Billion said. "It's not going to be a fancy policy, but it will have immunizations, preventative care, basic care with co-pays ... and, wrapping around on the top of it, you'll be able to buy catastrophic health care."

Additional supplements would be available to those who want to pay for them, he said.

Premiums paid by subscribers and employers will fund the program, according to Billion.

He said the nation's health care system woes are now a national economic problem.

"The cost of health care has gone up so much that businesses have a problem expanding because of it," Billion said. "They don't want to hire new workers because of the health care burden.

"That's what's going to drive the solution," he added. "It's going to be economics."

Other elements of Billion's South Dakota health care proposal include:

* creating a multi-state purchasing compact to negotiate drug prices;

* working with insurers to promote wellness programs to prevent health problems;

* offering portability of the health care plan;

* developing incentives to encourage health care providers to locate in South Dakota's rural communities;

* utilizing technology to streamline health care and eliminate excessive administrative costs;

* providing more funding for mental health care and rehabilitation;

* expanding family coverage plans to allow coverage for unmarried children up to 30 years old;

* allowing patients to seek benefits from stem cell research; and

* offering dental care plans in conjunction with the health care plans.
One thing I have noticed during the campaign thus far is that Dr. Billion has many excellent ideas for what he would like to do if he wins in November but unfortunately another thing I have noticed while traveling the state is that his ideas are not getting out.

We are only 6 weeks or so from the election and going by the billboards and campaign ads (unfortunately I spend many hours on the road and a lot of evenings in hotel rooms watching TV), Billion is still suffering from the same problem he had when he first announced his candidacy, very few South Dakotans know who he is and what he stands for.

Governor Rounds on the other hand is everywhere, billboards in every city and seemingly every other mile marker on the interstates plus campaign ads on all the local stations and cable systems.

Even with mid 60 percent approval ratings, Governor Rounds has never been more vulnerable with his signing of the abortion ban, copping out on the Page execution, charges of impropriety with his secret "hunts" and state plane usage but even with all this ammunition, where is the Democratic Party? Their fingerprints are definitely nowhere to be found in the governors race and unless things change quickly we will be forced to endure 4 more years of the Rounds legacy of closed government, underfunded schools and legislated morality.

We have a candidate that can do great things for our state but we only have a few weeks left to let South Dakotans know he exists...

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