Voters back Medicaid expansion in South Dakota

By: - November 9, 2022 1:16 am

South Dakotans voted to expand eligibility for the state’s Medicaid programs Tuesday.

Constitutional Amendment D was winning with 56% of the vote as of 1 a.m. Nov. 9, or roughly 166,879 votes.

While the state is one of 12 that hadn’t expanded eligibility for its Medicaid programs, it was the only state to feature the question in the 2022 election.

The proposal would offer Medicaid coverage to an estimated 42,500 low-income South Dakotans ages 18 to 64.

About 16,000 of those people don’t currently qualify for any government assistance with health coverage even though their income falls below the federal poverty level.

Medicaid, the nation’s leading public health insurance program for low-income and disabled Americans, covers more than 82 million people and is jointly financed and operated by the federal and state governments. The 2010 Affordable Care Act allows states to offer coverage to more people, with the federal government paying 90% of the costs.

“Increasing Medicaid eligibility means more South Dakotans will have access to comprehensive coverage, including cancer screenings, diagnostic testing, treatment services and follow-up care needed to survive the disease that will kill 1,740 South Dakotans this year,” said Matthew McLarty, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) South Dakota government relations director in a prepared statement.

Keith Moore, director of Americans for Prosperity in South Dakota, told Kaiser Health News ahead of the election that he opposes expanding Medicaid because the taxpayer-funded program has been victim to billions of dollars in fraud and error. Moore also pointed to states that ended up spending more than expected on expanded coverage.

Americans for Prosperity supported an effort to create a 60% approval threshold for constitutional ballot questions that cost $10 million or more to implement, which would have included Medicaid expansion. In June, voters overwhelmingly defeated that proposal, so the expansion amendment needed only a simple majority to pass in November.

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Makenzie Huber
Makenzie Huber

Makenzie Huber is a lifelong South Dakotan whose work has won national and regional awards. She's spent five years as a journalist with experience reporting on workforce, development and business issues within the state.