Governor Dennis Daugaard is not asking lawmakers to expand Medicaid this session. State officials received a letter from the federal government outlining policy changes, but the Governor says there’s not enough time in the final days of the session to fully consider the issue.
Scott Duke is the President and CEO of the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations. He says Governor Daugaard made the right choice in deciding to not ask for Medicaid expansion.
“The legislative session has a timeline,” Duke says. “We’re not discouraged by that. We continue to be excited about working together in this. And we are optimistic that we will be able to work through all of the other pieces to be able to bring it forward.”
Representative Spence Hawley says he and other Democrats are committed to make Medicaid expansion a reality. He says he’s disappointed that won’t happen this session.
“We were extremely hopeful that we were going to get the Medicaid expansion through during this session this year,” Hawley says. “After working on it for three years, as Democrats we feel fully invested in this.”
Hawley says he understands why the Governor made his decision.
Governor Daugaard supports addressing the issue in a special session, possibly later this year.
Representative Don Haggar, who does not support expansion to the level asked by the federal government, says a special session would allow lawmakers to specifically discuss Medicaid.
“However, having said that, I don’t believe we’ll have enough data, enough information, before the beginning of next session to really move forward,” Haggar says. “I just don’t think that even that’s going to be enough time to decide whether or not this is something we should pursue.”
In the meantime, those with the South Dakota Health Care Solutions Coalition are moving forward to implement changes laid out by the federal government. This is a process that could pave the way for the Governor’s expansion proposal in the months to come.