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New list rates the most bipartisan members of Congress—and the least • South Dakota Searchlight

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New list rates the most bipartisan members of Congress—and the least • South Dakota Searchlight


WASHINGTON — Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick were the most bipartisan members of Congress last year, according to a newly released analysis from the Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University.

The least bipartisan House lawmaker was Ohio Republican Jim Jordan, while Alabama’s Katie Britt, a Republican freshman, placed last among senators.

No member of South Dakota’s all-Republican, three-member congressional delegation ranked in the top 10 of either chamber, but all three were in the top half of the rankings. Sen. Mike Rounds ranked 20th in the 100-member Senate, and Sen. John Thune ranked 42nd. Rep. Dusty Johnson ranked 106th in the 435-member House.

Sen. John Thune, Sen. Mike Rounds and Rep. Dusty Johnson attend a forum at Dakotafest in Mitchell on Aug. 16, 2023. (Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)
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The latest ranking of the most bipartisan lawmakers comes amid one of the least productive Congresses in the nation’s history and just months before nearly all House lawmakers and about one-third of the Senate face voters at the polls in November.

Maria Cancian, dean of the McCourt School of Public Policy, wrote in a statement announcing the new rankings that “while there is much room for improvement, I am encouraged to see some progress on cross-party collaboration.”

“In these deeply divided times, and with an increasing amount of misleading information online, we need tools like the Bipartisan Index more than ever — an evidence-based and nonpartisan approach for measuring how well policymakers work across the aisle to get things done,” Cancian wrote.

Lugar Center Policy Director Dan Diller wrote that it was “especially disheartening that all eight new Senators who took office in January 2023 ranked in the bottom 30 percent of Senate scores.”

“Bipartisan cooperation on legislation in 2023 was deficient by historical standards, though there were some marginal improvements in scores from the previous Congress,” Diller wrote.

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The website with the rankings states that the “Bipartisan Index is intended to fill a hole in the information available to the public about the performance of Members of Congress.”

The Lugar Center, founded by the late U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, a Republican from Indiana, “is a platform for informed debate and analysis of global issues, including nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, global food security, foreign assistance effectiveness and global development, energy security, and enhancing bipartisan governance,” according to its website.

The rankings take into consideration “the frequency with which a member of Congress sponsors bills that are co-sponsored by at least one member of the opposing party” and “the frequency with which a member co-sponsors bills introduced by members of the opposite Party.”

Who is the most bipartisan?

The top 10 senators were:

  • Collins
  • Michigan Democrat Gary Peters
  • New Hampshire Democrat Maggie Hassan
  • West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin
  • Texas Republican John Cornyn
  • Nevada Democrat Jacky Rosen
  • Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski
  • Kansas Republican Jerry Moran
  • Indiana Republican Todd Young
  • Montana Democrat Jon Tester

The top 10 House lawmakers were:

  • Fitzpatrick
  • New York Republican Marcus Molinaro
  • New Hampshire Democrat Chris Pappas
  • New York Republican Mike Lawler
  • North Carolina Democrat Don Davis
  • Puerto Rico Republican Delegate Jenniffer González-Colón
  • Nevada Democrat Susie Lee
  • Nebraska Republican Don Bacon
  • New Jersey Democrat Josh Gottheimer
  • Iowa Republican Zach Nunn

The Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University wrote on their website that their “aim in publishing this Index is not to promote a specific legislative agenda, as is the case for many indexes, but solely the promotion of a bipartisan approach to governance.”

“The credibility of the Index is derived from the objectivity of its methodology; Index scores are computed formulaically from publically available data,” it states. “The Index requires no subjective assessment of specific legislative items.”

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The least bipartisan House lawmakers following Jordan were New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Missouri Democrat Cori Bush, New York Democrat Jamaal Bowman and Missouri Republican Eric Burlison.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, ranked 423, but will likely be excluded from future scores since he has now occupied one of the top two leadership posts for at least six months.

The least bipartisan senators following Britt were Missouri Republican Eric Schmitt, Washington state Democrat Patty Murray, Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson and Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton.

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South Dakota

3 shot to death in South Dakota town; former mayor, ex-law enforcement officer charged

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3 shot to death in South Dakota town; former mayor, ex-law enforcement officer charged


Three people have been shot to death in a small South Dakota town, and a former law officer who once served as the town’s mayor has been charged in the killings.

Jay Ostrem, 64, was jailed on $1 million cash-only bond on three counts of first-degree murder, South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said Tuesday in a news release.

“Law enforcement has secured the scene,” Jackley said. “There is no further threat to the public.”

A probable cause affidavit identified the victims as two brothers, ages 26 and 21, and a 35-year-old man. They were not immediately identified by name, as family members were still being informed. The document didn’t specify any connection between the third victim and the brothers.

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Ostrem worked in law enforcement for more than two decades in Wyoming and South Dakota, media reports said. He served as mayor of Centerville about a decade-and-a-half ago, but the exact dates weren’t immediately available.

The probable cause document said a man in Centerville called police at 9:44 p.m. Monday to report that his brother had been shot by “a guy from across the street” and that the shooter had gone back home. The caller was still on the phone with a dispatcher when he said that he had been shot, too. He then stopped talking, the document said.

Ostrem was arrested a short time later. An AR-style rifle was on the ground near him, and he had a handgun in his pocket, the document stated. Officers then went to the home where the call originated and found all three victims.

Ostrem’s wife told police that a neighbor named Paul had sexually assaulted her on Thursday, and she told Ostrem about the assault Monday night, the document stated. She said Ostrem “got up and went raging out of the house,” according to the document.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Ostrem had an attorney. Calls to a phone listing for Ostrem went unanswered.

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Centerville is about 40 miles south of Sioux Falls.



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Medicaid unwinding deals blow to tenuous system of care for Native Americans • South Dakota Searchlight

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Medicaid unwinding deals blow to tenuous system of care for Native Americans • South Dakota Searchlight


About a year into the process of redetermining Medicaid eligibility after the COVID-19 public health emergency, more than 20 million people have been kicked off the joint federal-state program for low-income families.

A chorus of stories recount the ways the unwinding has upended people’s lives, but Native Americans are proving particularly vulnerable to losing coverage and face greater obstacles to reenrolling in Medicaid or finding other coverage.

“From my perspective, it did not work how it should,” said Kristin Melli, a pediatric nurse practitioner in rural Kalispell, Montana, who also provides telehealth services to tribal members on the Fort Peck Reservation.

The redetermination process has compounded long-existing problems people on the reservation face when seeking care, she said. She saw several patients who were still eligible for benefits disenrolled. And a rise in uninsured tribal members undercuts their health systems, threatening the already tenuous access to care in Native communities.

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How the state, tribes and federal government are working to curb SD’s syphilis epidemic

One teenager, Melli recalled, lost coverage while seeking lifesaving care. Routine lab work raised flags, and in follow-ups Melli discovered the girl had a condition that could have killed her if untreated. Melli did not disclose details, to protect the patient’s privacy.

Melli said she spent weeks working with tribal nurses to coordinate lab monitoring and consultations with specialists for her patient. It wasn’t until the teen went to a specialist that Melli received a call saying she had been dropped from Medicaid coverage.

The girl’s parents told Melli they had reapplied to Medicaid a month earlier but hadn’t heard back. Melli’s patient eventually got the medication she needed with help from a pharmacist. The unwinding presented an unnecessary and burdensome obstacle to care.

Pat Flowers, Montana Democratic Senate minority leader, said during a political event in early April that 13,000 tribal members had been disenrolled in the state.

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Native American and Alaska Native adults are enrolled in Medicaid at higher rates than their white counterparts, yet some tribal leaders still didn’t know exactly how many of their members had been disenrolled as of a survey conducted in February and March. The Tribal Self-Governance Advisory Committee of the Indian Health Service conducted and published the survey. Respondents included tribal leaders from Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, and New Mexico, among other states.

Tribal leaders reported many challenges related to the redetermination, including a lack of timely information provided to tribal members, patients unaware of the process or their disenrollment, long processing times, lack of staffing at the tribal level, lack of communication from their states, concerns with obtaining accurate tribal data, and in cases in which states have shared data, difficulties interpreting it.

Research and policy experts initially feared that vulnerable populations, including rural Indigenous communities and families of color, would experience greater and unique obstacles to renewing their health coverage and would be disproportionately harmed.

“They have a lot at stake and a lot to lose in this process,” said Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families and a research professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy. “I fear that that prediction is coming true.”

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Cammie DuPuis-Pablo, tribal health communications director for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in Montana, said the tribes don’t have an exact number of their members disenrolled since the redetermination began, but know some who lost coverage as far back as July still haven’t been reenrolled.

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The tribes hosted their first outreach event in late April as part of their effort to help members through the process. The health care resource division is meeting people at home, making calls, and planning more events.

The tribes receive a list of members’ Medicaid status each month, DuPuis-Pablo said, but a list of those no longer insured by Medicaid would be more helpful.

Because of those data deficits, it’s unclear how many tribal members have been disenrolled.

“We are at the mercy of state Medicaid agencies on what they’re willing to share,” said Yvonne Myers, consultant on the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid for Citizen Potawatomi Nation Health Services in Oklahoma.

In Alaska, tribal health leaders struck a data-sharing agreement with the state in July but didn’t begin receiving information about their members’ coverage for about a month — at which point more than 9,500 Alaskans had already been disenrolled for procedural reasons.

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“We already lost those people,” said Gennifer Moreau-Johnson, senior policy adviser in the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, a nonprofit organization. “That’s a real impact.”

Because federal regulations don’t require states to track or report race and ethnicity data for people they disenroll, fewer than 10 states collect such information. While the data from these states does not show a higher rate of loss of coverage by race, a KFF report states that the data is limited and that a more accurate picture would require more demographic reporting from more states.

Medicaid work requirement question will appear on South Dakota ballots in November

Tribal health leaders are concerned that a high number of disenrollments among their members is financially undercutting their health systems and ability to provide care.

“Just because they’ve fallen off Medicaid doesn’t mean we stop serving them,” said Jim Roberts, senior executive liaison in the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. “It means we’re more reliant on other sources of funding to provide that care that are already underresourced.”

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Three in 10 Native American and Alaska Native people younger than 65 rely on Medicaid, compared with 15% of their white counterparts. The Indian Health Service is responsible for providing care to approximately 2.6 million of the 9.7 million Native Americans and Alaska Natives in the U.S., but services vary across regions, clinics, and health centers. The agency itself has been chronically underfunded and unable to meet the needs of the population. For fiscal year 2024, Congress approved $6.96 billion for IHS, far less than the $51.4 billion tribal leaders called for.

Because of that historical deficit, tribal health systems lean on Medicaid reimbursement and other third-party payers, like Medicare, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and private insurance, to help fill the gap. Medicaid accounted for two-thirds of third-party IHS revenues as of 2021.

Some tribal health systems receive more federal funding through Medicaid than from IHS, Roberts said.

Tribal health leaders fear diminishing Medicaid dollars will exacerbate the long-standing health disparities — such as lower life expectancy, higher rates of chronic disease, and inferior access to care — that plague Native Americans.

The unwinding has become “all-consuming,” said Monique Martin, vice president of intergovernmental affairs for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.

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“The state’s really having that focus be right into the minutiae of administrative tasks, like: How do we send text messages to 7,000 people?” Martin said. “We would much rather be talking about: How do we address social determinants of health?”

Melli said she has stopped hearing of tribal members on the Fort Peck Reservation losing their Medicaid coverage, but she wonders if that means disenrolled people didn’t seek help.

“Those are the ones that we really worry about,” she said, “all of these silent cases. … We only know about the ones we actually see.”

KFF Health News is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues and is one of the core operating programs at KFF—an independent source of health policy research, polling, and journalism. Learn more about KFF.

Subscribe to KFF Health News’ free Morning Briefing.

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Relays at State Track a sweeping success for Sioux Falls Christian girls

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Relays at State Track a sweeping success for Sioux Falls Christian girls


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) – In South Dakota high school track and field teamwork has made the dream work for the Sioux Falls Christian girls who, for the second straight year, pulled off an impressive feat on their way to a third consecutive State A team championship.

During last weekend’s SDHSAA State Meet the Chargers won all five relay races, taking the 4×800 and Sprint Medley on Thursday before capturing the 4×200, 4×100 and 4×400 relays on Saturday.

It’s the second consecutive year that Sioux Falls Christian has swept the relay races, helping them increase their team point total from last year by four to 130.5, and put them 75 points ahead of runner up Lennox.

No matter who graduates or is running, the Chargers say they’re always chasing greatness, and each other, while building towards each championship finish.

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“One of the keys to having those strong relays is having a team with depth. And we’ve got a great group of coaches that make our track and field team a place that kids want to be a part of and, when you have a lot of kids on your team, you’re able to put together great relays.” Sioux Falls Christian Head Coach Luke VanderLeest says.

”A championship, like that is the goal, but that’s not something to be stressed throughout the season. Just getting better every day, each step at a time and our coaches do a really good job at taking the weight off. This doesn’t just come from a one person team, this comes from all of us.” Sioux Falls Christian Junior Anna Vyn says.



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