S.D. Governor: Federal Government Should Not Require Citizens to Buy Health Insurance

By Nicholas Ballasy | March 16, 2010 | 9:09 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) -- South Dakota’s Republican Governor Mike Rounds told CNSNews.com that he does not think the citizens of his state should be required by the federal government to purchase health insurance, as President Barack Obama’s pending health care bill mandates.
“First of all, I don’t think they should be required to purchase health insurance,” said Rounds. “I think that’s one of the issues going on. But understand the reason why they are putting in, because you have to have healthy premiums if you’re going to require that insurance companies take on everybody that steps in the door. In the past, we’ve talked about how you do that.”

“Part of it is you simply share with individuals that if you are sick and if you don’t have insurance coverage, there’s a problem,” said Rounds. “The federal government simply has found no better way to do it than to require people to carry insurance. That’s been one of the biggest challenges in any one of the bills that they tried to put together at the federal level.”
Governor Rounds also said that South Dakota has found “better ways” to help people get health insurance.
“Each state has their own approach to it,” Rounds told CNSNews.com. “We found some better ways to do it. South Dakota, we have 91 percent of our people that have insurance coverage today or plan to take care of their health insurance needs.”
CNSNews.com also asked Rounds, “What part of the Constitution would give Congress the authority to mandate that individuals purchase health insurance?”
He responded, “I honestly couldn’t tell you where Congress has that authority to do it in the first place.”
Gov. Rounds moderated the “Enacting Reforms With or Without Federal Legislation” panel along with Gov. Jim Douglas (R-Vt.) at the National Governor’s Association Conference on Monday in Washington, D.C. 
While on the panel, Rounds said his state would see increased health care costs if the current health care bill in Congress passes and is signed into law.
“The increased costs will first of all start with only about $4 million per year to begin with, but that does not include the provider inflation, which is on everybody that is on Medicaid,” he said. “In the next couple of years though, as it continues on, the federal assistance starts to go away and, as it goes away, the state has to pick up a larger and larger part, which is $35 to 40 million per year.”
“But still, that does not include the biggest cost-driver, which is going to be medical inflation – that’s what the doctors will ask for in terms of an inflationary increase every single year,” said Rounds. “There’s nothing in the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) estimates that includes anything for provider inflation, and that is one of the three biggest cost drivers in most states’ budgets.”