The House Health and Human Services committee passed House Bill 1244 on Thursday to help give health insurance to South Dakotans below the 100 percent poverty line. An amendment to the bill deals with hospital tax exemptions. It removes the tax exemption from hospitals with over 50 beds. Republican State Representative Steve Hickey says the amendment is a long shot. But he says it’s a conversation that needs to happen within the state legislature.
"Somebody needs to raise the issue and I didn’t come in here this morning thinking I was going to hear this. That woke me up. I’m ready to move it forward with the assumption that it will meet a very big brick wall very quickly when this gets out of this committee, but it will raise that issue again. The conversation continues," Hickey says.
Representative Hickey says the general public doesn’t understand how hospitals can receive large funds from a corporate donation and remain listed as a non-profit entity. Republican State Representative Scott Ecklund opposes this bill. He feels the amendment to remove tax exemptions from larger hospitals is legislation suicide. This bill passed the House Health and Human Service committee, 8 to 4, and it goes next to the House floor.