Sunday, January 23, 2022

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President Biden gets cheers and jeers as he marks his first year in the White House, the Jan. 6 committee wants to hear from Ivanka Trump, and the Supreme Court rejects another challenge to the Texas abortion law.

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Survey: Older SD Voters Want State to Expand Medicaid

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Wednesday, January 5, 2022   

A coalition working to expand Medicaid in South Dakota this week announced petitions have been approved to get the question onto the fall ballot - and new polling suggests registered voters around the state are likely to vote "yes."

In the new AARP poll, eight in 10 South Dakotans age 50 and older say they support the idea. Overall, 65% of respondents said they're likely to back that up with a "yes" vote. AARP South Dakota diector Erik Gaikowski said support is found among people of all political leanings, and added that they don't want to see federal tax dollars keep going to states that already have expanded -- "$1.3 billion in tax dollars that we want to bring back to South Dakota to expand Medicaid, rather than going to a New York, a California or North Dakota."

Incentives for expansion were first offered under the Affordable Care Act, with the federal government covering most of the costs. Twelve states have yet to expand their Medicaid programs. Cost concerns about what states could have to pay are common in these debates, but supporters say that money is already spent in other ways, including for uncompensated health care.

In South Dakota, some state lawmakers are pushing to raise the approval threshold for ballot questions. Even if they succeed, Gaikowski said he feels the poll results show that wouldn't be a major obstacle. He added that Medicaid expansion would come at a critical time for health-care systems.

"We know that 14 rural health-care systems are in danger of closing in South Dakota," he said. "By passing Medicaid expansion, those those rural healthcare systems are likely not going to close."

The closure warning comes from a national group that monitors the status of rural health systems. AARP said the poll was conducted last fall, and reached 1,000 registered voters across the state. The coalition behind the ballot initiative says an expansion would provide health coverage to 40,000 more South Dakotans, and the federal government would cover 90% of expansion costs.

Disclosure: AARP South Dakota contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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