Governor: Numbers add up for South Dakota Medicaid expansion

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Gov. Dennis Daugaard said last week he is confident that South Dakota can expand Medicaid at no cost to the state’s taxpayers.

Continued efforts by the South Dakota Health Care Solutions Coalition and other stakeholders present a “significant opportunity” for South Dakota to expand Medicaid coverage to 50,000 hard-working South Dakotans between the ages of 18 and 65, the governor said. The number includes some 13,000 residents who fall into a coverage gap with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid yet too low to qualify for tax credits through HealthCare.gov.

Daugaard said he is willing to call a special session of the Legislature this summer if there is enough support among lawmakers for his plan, which is backed by more than 60 organizations including the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations (SDAHO).

In a letter to supporting organizations, Daugaard asked for members’ continued support of Medicaid expansion through communicating to legislators and others in the state the significant opportunity presented by this approach.

Cost savings from a new Indian Health Service policy are helping to fund the governor’s proposal, which would help cover 15,000 Medicaid-eligible Native Americans with no added cost to the state’s general fund budget. The plan would also mean that:

  • Adults who cannot earn enough to gain subsidized insurance coverage through the exchange will have coverage for their health care
  • Counties and cities will see savings on expenses for poor relief
  • County jails and state prisons will see savings by avoiding medical costs for indigent prisoners who are hospitalized
  • Tribal members who opt to use IHS will see improved services
  • Providers will see reduced costs of charity care

Meanwhile, the South Dakota Health Care Solutions Coalition is continuing its work on other focus areas, which include Care Coordination, Tele-Health, Behavioral Health, and Specialty Care referrals and Inpatient/Outpatient Services.