Conservative lawmakers concerned about Medicaid expansion
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said that ‘Dakotans for Health’ was the group campaigning for the passage of Amendment D. The group behind the campaign was ‘South Dakotans Decide Healthcare.”
RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - In a year where South Dakota voters overwhelmingly chose conservative candidates, it may seem unlikely they would pass expanding healthcare under the Affordable Care Act. Nonetheless, voters chose Amendment D, expanding the state’s Medicaid program.
However, the South Dakota Legislature’s conservative ‘Freedom Caucus’ is taking issue with the new law passed by voters of the Mt. Rushmore State.
They say this will create a billion-dollar problem for the state budget.
Representative Tony Randolph said that even with the money provided by the federal government, South Dakotans will have to pay it back in the long run.
“It’s going on top of what our grandkids and great-grandkids, and great great grandkids will owe,” Randolph said. “So, when we say ‘investment,’ that’s essentially kicking that down the road for someone else to pay for.”
The ‘Freedom Caucus’ also argues that many South Dakotans may lose their private health insurance, and be forced onto the Medicaid program.
Rick Weiland, co-founder of ‘Dakotans for Health,’ said that there’s no proof that this would happen.
He adds that that the money put into the program over a five-year period is a good investment in keeping South Dakotans healthy.
“We’re going to take care of our people, and we’re going to invest in our rural healthcare system,” Weiland said. “I mean, it’s a no-brainer and it should have been done ten years ago. So, there’s a reason this is a constitutional amendment because of groups like the Freedom Caucus that would love nothing more than to throw sand in the gears if it had been an initiated measure. Now, they’re going to have a rough time doing that.”
The caucus is now demanding Republican state legislators who support Medicaid expansion come up with valid solutions to make up for the money spent.
The 2023 legislative session starts in January.
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