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South Dakota Municipal League supports Medicaid expansion

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The attached interview above is from SDPB's daily public-affairs show, In the Moment.

The legislative voice of South Dakota's cities and townships supports expanding Medicaid coverage. President of the South Dakota Municipal League Steve Allender says members see an opportunity to better serve constituents.

Allender is also mayor of Rapid City, the state's second-largest city. He says expanding Medicaid coverage would do more than cover health-care costs for eligible South Dakotans: It could save struggling hospitals that lose money by treating patients who can't afford insurance.

"I see this, Medicaid expansion, as throwing a lifeline to rural hospitals specifically," Allender says. "But not just them. All the other hospital systems, the larger hospital systems in South Dakota suffer with this as well."

Critics of Medicaid expansion often cite the cost. Allender says the federal share of the investment and its benefits would far outweigh what the state would spend.

"Some people might refer to it as a shell game, or [say] 'It's all tax money.' But federal tax money and incentives are going to come to the state in multitudes of what the state would invest in this."

The Legislative Research Council estimates expanding Medicaid coverage could cost the state about $166 million during the first five years, but it would lead to additional general fund savings of about $162 million.

South Dakota voters will decide whether or not to expand Medicaid coverage in November's midterm election.

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