“Americans for Prosperity” mounts anti-Medicaid campaign

The libertarian leaning advocacy group is making a last minute appeal to voters to block the passage of Amendment D.
South Dakota has a large group of voters who are undecided about expanding Medicaid.
South Dakota has a large group of voters who are undecided about expanding Medicaid.(MGN Online)
Published: Oct. 18, 2022 at 9:16 AM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. - If passed by voters, Amendment D would expand Medicaid coverage to working age people in South Dakota, who are at or below 133% of the federal poverty level.

And while minimal effort has been put into opposing Amendment D, libertarian think tank “Americans for Prosperity” (AFP) is now attempting to curve the movement’s momentum.

But even for AFP’s South Dakota State Director Keith Moore, the passage of Medicaid expansion in South Dakota feels close to inevitable.

In the 37 states where Medicaid expansion has been on the ballot, it has never been defeated.

“As people have been able to see the results and the evidence against Medicaid expansion, the races have gotten tighter,” Moore explains. “So the elevator pitch to me is that Medicaid is met for needy children, disabled individuals, for the elderly and needy. And if this passes, it is going to crowd them out.”

Despite the strong campaign mounted by Medicaid expansion proponents, Moore points to more recent results as reasons to believe the effort could fail.

In deep red Oklahoma, Medicaid expansion passed by less than a percentage point. Its what has motivated Moore and AFP to make a late in the game appeal to voters to reject the measure.

“We need to be reminded as voters that the federal tax dollars that are being spent by Medicaid to expand it, those are still our tax dollars too,” Moore said. “It is not like those dollars come from some place else, those are our tax dollars too that are being used to fund Medicaid expansion.”

But even still, the effort to defeat the initiative in South Dakota faces its own, unique challenges.

A number of organizations, including those representing first responders, and health awareness groups like the American Cancer Society, have endorsed Amendment D. Additionally, the state’s three major healthcare systems; Avera, Monument, and Sanford, have also endorsed the effort, and poured hundred of thousands of dollars into making sure it passes.

Still, AFP is hopeful that South Dakota voters will reject it.

“In my mind, it is a boondoggle,” Moore says. “We are being sold something like it is good for the economy... We are being sold this idea it is good for the economy, good for creating jobs, and so much more. Maybe it will create jobs for certain organizations, but it is not going to be good for our economy when the state is going to have to pay as much as it will for Medicaid expansion.”

In addition to AFP’s recent activism, South Dakota State Senators Ryan Maher (R-Isabel) and John Wiik (R-Big Stone City) formed a Statewide Ballot Question Committee called “NO ON AMENDMENT D” earlier this month. Financial disclosures have yet to be filed for that committee.

Voters will have the final say on November 8th.