State lawmakers had a busy day Tuesday as it was the last day for both chambers to pass bills out. The Senate worked through more than 20 bills in almost five hours. Senators discussed House Bill 1142 for more than 40 minutes before defeating the bill. The proposed legislation promoted patient choice in selecting health care providers by prohibiting health insurers from limiting which health care providers patients can use. Opponents of the legislation say there’s no evidence the bill would correlate with reduced costs, and that the current system promotes competition. Senator Deb Soholt says legislators need to consider health care in rural areas of the state.
“I understand the feeling within the Senate that the health systems and networks are perhaps being perceived as too large and that vertical integration somehow just feels, it’s like too much and too much control and too much decision making. But I would ask this body to really think about all the rural communities in South Dakota that are being lifted up by health care right now. That honestly without access to primary care, and personally running a clinic myself, I understand how doing a clinic that’s very low intervention, we’re not doing surgeries, we’re not doing any kind of procedural things within the clinic, and how very difficult it is to even keep the lights on and be in the black,” Soholt says.
Supporters of the legislation say it’s about protecting patients and the relationships with their doctors. The bill was defeated 11-23 on the Senate floor.