Both supporters and opponents to Initiated Measure 17 say their side benefits health care patients. The ballot initiative allows doctors to become part of health care plans negotiated between other parties. Opponents claim the move encourages government intervention in health care and try to lure people from major health systems to private medical offices. Supporters say 17 is an opportunity for patients to determine the best options for their own health care.
Advocates for Initiated Measure 17 say patients encounter difficult decisions when their health plans change. That’s because an insurance switch can mean current doctors become classified as out-of-network, so insurance companies charge more for patients to see them than for services with in-network providers.
Shannon McCoy is the campaign manager for Yes on 17. She says patients now must decide between cost and quality.
"People can see the doctor that they want to see if they’re willing to pay more money, but that’s not necessarily the right thing," McCoy says. "A lot of times what we’re hearing is that people deserve the best quality of care. They do. Why should they have to pay more?"
McCoy says Initiated Measure 17 increases competition, because all doctors have equal opportunity to see patients.
South Dakota Chamber of Commerce President David Owen disagrees. He says competition in health care doesn’t operate on the individual level as other industries do.
"People don’t spend their own money when they’re purchasing health care. They do it through pooled resources. So it’s at that pooled-resource level, through those negotiations, that you have that kind of competition that people are looking for in the marketplace, and what this is designed to do is to make sure that no one has any reason to enter into those negotiations at all," Owen says.
Owen says agreements brokered between health care managers and providers establish the lowest costs for highest patient care. He says Initiated Measure 17 drives prices up by removing incentives for agreements between providers and insurance companies.
McCoy says the measure doesn’t require health insurance companies to raise their rates.
Read the official explanation of Initiated Measure 17 on this pamphlet posted on the SD Secretary of State's website.