South Dakota approves Medicaid expansion over GOP resistance

Nov 8, 2022, 4:49 PM | Updated: Nov 9, 2022, 7:27 am

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota voters on Tuesday approved the expansion of Medicaid health insurance to tens of thousands of low-income residents through a constitutional amendment.

The majority vote to support Constitutional Amendment D removes South Dakota from a list of 12 states that have not expanded eligibility for the government health insurance program to people earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level — currently about $18,800 for an individual or $38,300 for a family of four.

The Republican-controlled Legislature had declined to expand Medicaid eligibility under the 2010 federal Affordable Care Act, and Gov. Kristi Noem has opposed the idea. But proponents for expansion have found success through ballot measures across GOP-dominated states, and a wide coalition of health care groups and organizations backed a well-funded ballot campaign this year in South Dakota.

“We’re a farm community, and people just can’t afford insurance so they need some more help,” said Bob Pederson, a Sioux Falls retiree who voted to expand eligibility Tuesday.

Dave Melemseter, also voting in Sioux Falls, said he backed expansion even though he worried it would weigh heavily on the state budget. Melemseter — who like Pederson said he usually votes Republican — said it was important for people to have coverage.

“I think it will pass and I think six years down the road, we’re going to be stuck with a really big bill,” he said.

Once a proposition that was anathema to conservatives, its passage would be a sign of growing acceptance even in a deeply red state.

By amending the state Constitution, voters would also place Medicaid expansion outside the grasp of the Legislature. Roughly 40,000 people would become eligible for Medicaid.

“We’re glad that South Dakota voters saw that helping our neighbors get health care is the right thing to do,” Dave Kapaska, who led the American Heart Association’s campaign work, said in a statement.

A coalition of health care groups, including the state’s largest hospital systems, initiated the ballot campaign. It has also won support from organizations that range across the political spectrum, from the state Chamber of Commerce to the South Dakota Farmers Union, religious organizations and progressive groups.

Advocates for expansion say that Medicaid access would help low-income people who could be saddled with exorbitant hospital bills, while also allowing the state’s citizens to tap into over $1 billion in federal funds.

They have run ads that feature working-class people like farmers and hairstylists talking about their need for health care coverage.

The campaign has branded the amendment as a financial “deal” for South Dakota. The federal government pays 90% of costs under a 2021 federal COVID-19 relief package, so the state would receive $1.3 billion in federal funding over five years for expansion. The state’s share over that time would be $166.2 million, but would also result in $162.5 million in savings, according to the Legislature’s research division.

But some Republican lawmakers have argued that the constitutional amendment would create a liability in South Dakota’s small state budget.

Groups like American for Prosperity, a free-market lobbying organization, also argue that Medicaid is a wasteful program and discourages people from seeking jobs where they can get private insurance.

In an effort to head off the Medicaid expansion vote, Republican lawmakers had proposed a separate constitutional amendment in this year’s primary election that would have required a 60% vote threshold on ballot measures that raise taxes or spend significant government funds. That proposal was overwhelmingly rejected by voters.

Noem, who is likely to win the governor’s post again, opposed expansion but had said she would implement it if it passed.

___

Follow the AP’s coverage of the midterm elections at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and check out https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections to learn more about the issues and factors at play.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Shoppers looking for bargains enter an OshKosh children clothing store, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in M...
Anne D'Innocenzio and Cora Lewis, Associated Press

Shoppers hunt for deals but inflation makes bargains elusive

Consumers holding out for big deals -- and some much-needed relief from soaring costs on just about everything -- may be disappointed as they head into the busiest shopping season of the year.
14 hours ago
FILE - The Twitter splash page is seen on a digital device, Monday, April 25, 2022, in San Diego.  ...
Associated Press

Musk plans to relaunch Twitter premium service, again

Elon Musk said Friday that Twitter plans to relaunch its premium service that will offer different colored check marks to accounts next week.
14 hours ago
FILE - Attendees at BookExpo America visit the HarperCollins Publishers booth in New York on May 28...
Associated Press

More than 150 agents back striking HarperCollins workers

NEW YORK (AP) — More than 150 literary agents, whose clients include Danielle Jackson, V.E. Schwab and L.A. Chandlar, have signed an open letter to HarperCollins vowing to “omit” the publisher from upcoming book submissions until it reaches an agreement with striking employees. Around 250 entry- and mid-level staff members, from publicists to editorial assistants, […]
14 hours ago
FILE - Basketball Hall of Famer Julius Erving tips his cap to the crowd as he takes the court durin...
Associated Press

Arbitrator will referee Dr. J’s suit against brand developer

DOVER, Del. (AP) — A Delaware judge on Monday halted a lawsuit filed by basketball legend Julius Erving against a brand-development and marketing company, ruling that the dispute must go to arbitration. The lawsuit by the Hall of Fame player known as “Dr. J” stems from a 2016 agreement to sell a majority interest in […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

Apple, Hess fall; Wynn Resorts, Shopify rise

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks that traded heavily or had substantial price changes Monday: Wynn Resorts Ltd., up $3.27 to $78.20. The Chinese gambling haven of Macao tentatively renewed the casino operator’s license, along with several others. Apple Inc., down $3.89 to $144.22. Wall Street is worried that protests and lockdowns in China could continue […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

How major US stock indexes fared Monday 11/28/2022

Stocks fell broadly on Wall Street as protests spread in China calling for President Xi Jinping to step down amid growing anger over severe restrictions imposed as part of his “zero COVID” strategy in the world’s second-largest economy. The S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq fell. Small-company stocks fell more than […]
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
South Dakota approves Medicaid expansion over GOP resistance