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How South Dakota voters can weigh in on Medicaid expansion


This interview is from SDPB's daily public-affairs show, In the Moment, hosted by Lori Walsh.

South Dakota is one of 12 states that has not accepted federal incentives to expand Medicaid eligibility. Now voters will have more than one opportunity to have a say about expansion in the state.

Constitutional Amendment D will go before voters in November after more than 38,200 people signed petitions to get Medicaid expansion on the ballot and those signatures were validated by the South Dakota Secretary of State's office.

If approved by voters, the amendment would expand Medicaid to people between 18 and 65 who earn 133 percent or less of the federal poverty level. The nonpartisan South Dakota Legislative Research Council projects that would make the program available to 42,500 additional South Dakotans in its first year.

Yet a referred amendment that goes before voters in June could make passing Medicaid expansion in November more difficult.

Amendment C would require any future ballot questions that raise taxes or spend at least $10 million be approved by 60%, not 50%, of South Dakota voters.

Legislators could, in theory, also pass Medicaid expansion legislation during the 2022 legislative session, which would further impact the viability of the November ballot question. The state legislative session begins on January 11.

Pam Cole is a Medicaid expansion advocate who worked with Dakotans for Health to get Medicaid expansion on the November 2022 ballot. She joins us to explain upcoming opportunities for voters to weigh in on Medicaid expansion in the state.