A South Dakota candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives is calling on her opponent to convince Republicans in the state house to vote on expanding Medicaid. Paula Hawks’ call comes just twenty four hours after South Dakota’s governor called off a special session.
U.S. House Candidate Paula Hawks says Medicaid expansion in South Dakota would help fund Indian Health Service operations.
Hawks says Medicaid expansion helps anywhere from 15,000 to 19,000 Native Americans in the state. She says it generates almost $15 million in IHS Funding.
Hawks is running as the Democratic candidate against incumbent U.S. representative Kristi Noem.
“What I’m calling on Kristi to do at this time is to show leadership amongst the people she has influence over in South Dakota, which is the Republican party and the leadership there, to talk to them and lobby them to make this happen for South Dakota. Because, while she is a federal representative for South Dakota, she still represents all the people of South Dakota, and her influence could be the difference it takes to make this happen,” Hawks says.
Hawks says House Republicans in the state should listen to the governor, who supports expanding Medicaid. The Democrat from Hartford says the reason the IHS system is broken is because the government never fully funded the program.
“You can’t attract the best candidates for working in your medical system, you can’t buy the best equipment and in some cases you can’t maintain it or hire other staff. And so, while I think that throwing money at it is not the entire answer, I do think that until we fully fund our treaty obligations for Indian healthcare, we can’t really talk about reforming," Hawks says.
Incumbent Kristi Noem says she agrees that IHS is underfunded, but says money alone won’t fix problems within the institution.