State lawmakers say improving quality of health care remains a legislative priority. This on the heels of Governor Dennis Daugaard’s announcement that he will not support Medicaid expansion in 2017. That has lawmakers examining work between the state and federal government.
Republican State Senator Deb Peters says she’s not sure expanding Medicaid is a political reality. She says before the election Medicaid expansion seemed like an option to improve Native health. Part of South Dakota’s plan included off-setting costs through Indian Health Services. IHS agreed to cover Native American health care that currently costs the state tens of millions of dollars.
Peters says South Dakota can’t take advantage of that deal unless Medicaid expands.
"So at this point, I don’t know what the ramifications are or what our opportunities would be going forward, because if we don’t expand I’m told we don’t get the agreement to access the 100 percent federal match to ensure Native Americans have good health outcomes," Peters says.
Peters says good health reduces state costs.
Democratic State Senator Billie Sutton says it’s the right thing to do for people. Sutton says he wants to make sure any money that IHS is still willing to cover helps the working poor.
"Because if we see a $70 million boon to our general budget and that just gets socked away to other programs that don’t involve health care, I’m going to be very disappointed," Sutton says.
Sutton says state lawmakers and the governor must craft new ways to help people who make too much money for state coverage but not enough to afford their own health insurance.