Democrats Push for Medicaid Expansion

Jan 30, 2015

Democrat lawmakers are discussing new legislation to expand Medicaid in the state. Last year lawmakers rejected a proposal to expand Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act. 

Around 48,000 South Dakota citizens are eligible to receive Medicaid if it is expanded. Democrat Billie Sutton says the cost of expanding Medicaid is around 100 million dollars through the year 2020 but the state would receive around 2 billion dollars of federal funds in return.

"The economic impact of that 2 billion dollars would actually make our state money after we pay for Medicaid expansion," says Sutton, "There’s a study done by two professors out of the University of Nebraska and it stated that we would gain 64 million dollars over the next 7 years if we expanded Medicaid in South Dakota. That’s after Medicaid expansion is paid for."

Sutton says Democrats are looking for compromises to make Medicaid expansion legislation more palatable for lawmakers this year. One proposal would allow the state to stop Medicaid expansion if the Federal government does not pay its portion.

Governor Dennis Daugaard says this plan won’t work because it’s hard for lawmakers to take citizens off a federal program once they have already received the benefits.

Daugaard says any proposal needs to have a strong plan for paying the state’s portion of Medicaid. Through the Affordable Care Act states that expand will have to pay 10% of their Medicaid expenses starting in 2020. Daugaard says this would amount to around 36 million dollars for South Dakota.

"I want to be sure that when the contribution from the state is going to require our input of 36 million dollars we somehow know where that’s coming from and what sacrifices we have to make, or what those who would otherwise get those dollars would have to make in order to provide them for this group," says Daugaard. 

Daugaard says he is open to compromises to expanding Medicaid as long as those proposals are sustainable for the state.