A South Dakota direct democracy organization is proposing a Medicaid expansion ballot question for the 2020 election.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, if Medicaid were expanded in South Dakota, roughly 40,000 adults would be newly eligible for coverage.
South Dakota Community Action has several pending ballot questions, including a $15 minimum wage, automatic voter registration, call for constitutional convention and requirement for employer to show cause for termination.
Nick Zachariasen is a co-founder of the group. He says he was personally affected by lack of coverage while working in a ware-house. He says the insurance was expensive and didn’t cover much.
“That donut hole is just a terrible thing to be in,” Zachariasen says. “Because you get into this place where you can’t afford medical care and you can’t afford the insurance to be able to get medical care and even if you can get insurance it’s not usable because then you can’t pay for the doctor because you’ve already spent that money on insurance for the doctor who you can’t see because you’re too broke from paying for the insurance. It just gets you in this nasty trap.”
As it’s currently written, the potential ballot question states a person eligible for Medicaid is at or below one hundred and thirty eight percent of the federal poverty level.
In 2016, then Governor Dennis Daugaard proposed expanding Medicaid, but idea lacked support from the legislature.
Zachariasen says the ballot question will expose where the electorate stands and whether the legislature is expressing the will of the people.