Thousands of South Dakotans will see immediate benefits from Medicaid expansion

August 4, 2023 4:00 pm
(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Many South Dakotans rejoiced with their family, friends and neighbors on July 1, the effective date of voter-approved Amendment D. With Medicaid expansion, we are keeping millions of our federal taxpayer dollars in the state, strengthening our economy and helping to keep rural hospitals open. South Dakota joins 39 other states across the nation in closing the health care coverage gap.

Nobody should have to choose between medical care and feeding their children or themselves. Lives will be saved and extended thanks to Amendment D, with roughly 52,000 South Dakotans newly eligible for health care coverage. Many gaining coverage are entrepreneurs or full-time employees whose jobs offer no or unaffordable health insurance.

54,000 South Dakotans disenrolled in Medicaid unwind; 52,000 expected to be eligible with expansion

When Mitchell resident Lisa Thompson returned to her home state from a stint living in Minnesota, she learned she fell into the coverage gap and said she felt like she had been given a “death sentence,” forced to deal with chronic conditions without access to health care or prescriptions. She applied as soon as registration opened for Medicaid expansion and encourages others to “reclaim their lives and access the health coverage they need and deserve.”

Indigenous South Dakotans suffer disproportionally from the coverage gap, with limited access to care affecting overall health outcomes. Indian Health Service will likely be one of the greatest beneficiaries of federal funds via Medicaid expansion, as was the case in neighboring Montana, where preventative care access increased, a clear victory for overall wellness.

Organizations like ours are working together to educate individuals and families who may be eligible for Medicaid expansion about the application and enrollment process.

Those interested in learning more about coverage options can visit to connect with a trained and certified navigator who can offer free support. Navigators are required to provide fair, impartial and accurate information about health insurance options, including Medicaid.

Enrollment usually takes less than an hour and recipients will have access to a comprehensive health insurance benefit package.

Thousands of South Dakotans will see immediate benefits from Amendment D’s implementation, but the investment will continue to be felt for years to come in the form of a healthier work force, reduced health disparities and expanded access to federal health care funds.

Every American deserves access to affordable health insurance. South Dakotans now have increased access, and there’s hope, in time, this victory will be a reality in all 50 states.

Additional signers of this commentary

  • AARP South Dakota
  • American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
  • American Heart Association
  • Community HealthCare Association of the Dakotas
  • South Dakota Nurses Association
  • South Dakota State Medical Association


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Chrissy Meyer
Chrissy Meyer

Chrissy Meyer is the regional senior director of marketing and communications for the American Heart Association.