IHS Deal To Save SD Millions Not An Option

Dec 6, 2016

Governor Dennis Daugaard says South Dakotans should not expect millions of dollars from IHS. A deal with the Indian Health Service would have covered medical care for Native Americans who qualify for IHS and Medicaid. The governor says that can’t happen for now.

Indian Health Service leaders agreed to cover millions in medical costs that South Dakota picks up using Medicaid. Governor Dennis Daugaard says that arrangement hinged on the state’s expansion of Medicaid. Because that isn’t happening, does the deal still work?

“Under present law, it would not," Daugaard says. "It would not, because there’s no incentive for IHS, nor for these other providers, to jump through all the hoops that they must jump through for us to capture that money.”

Daugaard says health organizations need to create infrastructure to share medical records and patient details for IHS. He says Medicaid expansion would have offered health insurance to more people, so health systems would receive more payments. Without that money, Daugaard says they have no reason to change.

Democratic State Senator Billie Sutton says lawmakers are not serving people too poor to afford insurance premiums but who make too much money to be on Medicaid.

"I think we just keep reminding them that these people exist, because sometimes there’s a feeling out there that we just want to pretend that these people aren’t part of our state," Sutton says.  

Both Sutton and Governor Dennis Daugaard say they want congressional leaders to work with IHS, because they say Native health care is a treaty right.