Medicaid Expansion Debate Set For Pierre

Jan 17, 2014

Lawmakers in Pierre are grappling with the idea of expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
 
Those in favor of expansion say it would be foolish for South Dakota to turn down the federal government’s offer to give Health Coverage to about 48-thousand South Dakota residents who could otherwise not afford it.   
 
But as SDPB’s Charles Michael Ray reports opponents say they don’t trust the Federal Government’s ability to follow-through for the long term and don’t want South Dakota stuck with the bill.

Democratic leaders in Pierre say the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act is among their top priorities this session.   Senate Minority Leader Jason Frerichs says there is both a moral imperative and huge economic benefits for expanding federal health coverage to those in need.
 
“If it’s going to be $272-million in federal Investment in our state in one year versus one-million to a million and a half of state investment it’s a pretty easy choice,” says Frerichs.
 
It’s not as simple of a choice for Republican leaders. But House Majority Leader David Lust says he’s willing to listen because there are very compelling arguments.   Lust says he understands the moral imperative and the economic argument in favor of Medicaid expansion.  At the same time Lust also understands the concerns expressed by some.  
 
“Is it prudent fiscally to expand recognizing the fiscal condition of the federal government and their ability to uphold their promise of funding, that’s got to be a very legitimate concern,” says Lust.
 
For his part Governor Dennis Daugaard says he’s not opposed to expansion, but he says it’s prudent to wait to see if the federal government can keep its promises.    Republicans Leaders add they are willing to talk about a compromise that targets certain people in real need.   But they say such a plan may require a waver from the federal government.