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Trump case expected to head to the jury today; IN food banks concerned about draft Farm Bill; NH parents, educators urge veto of anti-LGBTQ+ bills; Study shows a precipitous drop in migratory fish populations, in US and worldwide.

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Actor Robert DeNiro joins Capitol Police officers to protest against Donald Trump at his New York hush money trial as both sides make closing arguments. And the Democratic Party moves to make sure President Biden will be on the ballot in Ohio.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

SD's Medicaid expansion becomes ensnared with work-requirement debate

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Thursday, February 1, 2024   

As South Dakota continues to implement a Medicaid expansion approved by voters in 2022, controversy has emerged with some lawmakers seeking approval for work requirements.

The state Senate recently advanced a bill to put the issue on the November ballot. Voters would be asked whether some Medicaid recipients should have to prove they are employed as a stipulation for receiving the expanded health coverage. The provision would not apply to those with a physical or mental disability.

Jill Franken, retired director of Sioux Falls Health Department, said such a move would create undue burdens for those who just found out they qualified.

"This is just going to be another way of it becoming very confusing to people that already have very stressful lives and are trying to make ends meet," Franken contended.

Franken argued the requirement would keep more people out of the workforce because they could not get coverage to manage a chronic health issue. AARP South Dakota also opposes the idea, saying there are too many unknowns, including whether there would be exemptions for family caregivers. Republican supporters have raised several arguments, including the need to incentivize people to work.

But Franken, who also is a volunteer for AARP, said many people on Medicaid do work, with some having their employment occasionally disrupted by health problems. She pointed out if approved, the added provision would be especially hard on older adults still in the workforce.

"They're kind of the forgotten people, I think sometimes that we just don't pay attention to," Franken asserted. "A lot of them can be in that 50 to 64 age range; individuals who are trying to be productive but it's not always an option for them to be regularly employable."

Franken stressed lawmakers still need to allow implementation to run its course. Prior to winning approval in 2022, it was estimated the expansion would cover an additional 42,000 South Dakotans. State officials recently testified so far, nearly 18,000 people have become new enrollees. Federal incentives are covering much of the expansion costs, and the state would also need federal approval to add the requirement.

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


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