Governor: Federal IHS Savings Could Help People In Health Care Gap

Mar 27, 2017

Credit Kealey Bultena / SDPB

South Dakota’s governor says federal health care reform can benefit the state’s working poor. The United States Congress failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. South Dakota’s top official says a different federal change can save tens of millions of dollars.

To understand health care in South Dakota’s future, start in the past. The Affordable Care Act offers subsidies for people with low incomes down to the poverty line. Below that the law needed states to expand Medicaid to cover the working poor.

South Dakota did not expand Medicaid. Expansion supporters argue that the working poor are in a gap. They can’t get subsidies for insurance because they make too little money; they can’t get Medicaid because they earn too much.

South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard says a potential deal with Indian Health Services can help those people regardless of race.  

"What about adults who have children in their home but are above 52 percent of the poverty level? They can’t even get subsidy under the current Obamacare," Daugaard says. "I would think that population where they fall in that hole between where our threshold is and 100 percent of poverty where the subsidies begin, that would be a place that I would think makes sense to apply those savings."

Daugaard references saving tens of millions of dollars that he thinks the federal government should cover instead of the state.

South Dakota pays health care bills when people eligible for both Medicaid and Indian Health benefits use non-IHS facilities or need care IHS can’t provide. The governor says the federal government has a responsibility to Native Americans. He says covering those bills fulfills treaty obligations and saves the state millions.

Daugaard says he’s personally talked with current federal health leaders about the discrepancy for dual-eligible South Dakotans.