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Lawmakers advance proposed adjustment to Medicaid expansion requirements

venhuizen hjr 5004.jpg
Representative Tony Venhuizen introduces HJR 5004 for House approval. The resolution calls for a constitutional amendment that allows the state to consider work requirements for "able-bodied" people eligible for Medicaid expansion.

The South Dakota House of Representatives is advancing a proposed ballot measure that opens the door to work requirements for people covered by Medicaid expansion. Voters approved Medicaid expansion through a constitutional amendment last year.

House Joint Resolution 5004 says the state may consider work requirements for people who are “able-bodied” – something that’s not permitted in the current constitutional language.

Representative Tony Venhuizen brought the resolution. He said allowing the consideration of additional eligibility requirements is still ultimately up to voters.

“If it passes, that will also be the will of the voters," said Venhuizen. "We’re not going over their heads, we’re not taking the rug out from under them. We’re giving them the opportunity to refine the decision they made.”

Venhuizen reminded lawmakers this resolution does not implement a work requirement. That would take yet another voter-approved constitutional amendment.

Opponents say work requirements limit access to health care and are more costly for state agencies to enforce. Representative Oren Lesmeister said the phrase “able-bodied” is subjective.

“I bet we can argue for two or three days in here what an able-bodied person is because everybody’s gonna have a different opinion—which immediately sets the state up for another lawsuit," he said.

The House passed the resolution with a 60 to 8 vote Tuesday. It moves next to the Senate.

South Dakota’s Medicaid expansion program launches on July 1.

house vote on HJR 5004.jpg
SDPB YouTube
The results of the House vote on HJR 5004

Jackie is based out of SDPB's Sioux Falls Studio.