SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The issue of Medicaid expansion in South Dakota will be decided by voters on Constitutional Amendment D.
Up until the final day listed by state law to withdraw an initiated measure, it appeared Medicaid expansion would be voted on both Constitutional Amendment D, sponsored by South Dakotans Decide Healthcare, and Initiated Measure 28, sponsored by Dakotans for Health. That changed on Monday when the sponsor of IM 28 contacted the South Dakota Secretary of State’s office to withdraw the measure from the November 2022 general election ballot.
“I think everybody wanted to go into November with putting the best foot forward,” Zach Marcus, campaign manager for South Dakotans Decide Healthcare, told KELOLAND News. “I’m really grateful to the folks at Dakotans for Health for getting to this point where we can say there’s one campaign moving forward and it’s going to be Amendment D.”
South Dakota is one of just 12 states that hasn’t expanded Medicaid, which focuses on low-income individuals and families.
Marcus said he was confident Amendment D would pass either way, but added having one ballot question instead of two similar ones will make it easier for voters.
Rick Weiland, who was the main sponsor for IM 28, said his Dakotans for Health organization has been working on the Medicaid expansion issue for almost four years. He said after Amendment C failed in the June 7 primary election, he had many discussions with South Dakotans Decide Healthcare.
“The bottom line, for both our organization and the South Dakotans Decide Healthcare organization, is we need to get this done,” Weiland told KELOLAND News. “As difficult as it was, for us, it was an easy decision. Keeping the focus on the 42,000 people that are going to benefit and uniting behind the Constitutional Amendment.”
Weiland added passing Medicaid expansion as a Constitutional Amendment will make it more tough for lawmakers to “tinker with it.”
He said having one united campaign makes the chances of passing it higher.
“We’re excited about being part of a unified effort,” Weiland said. “We are excited to be part of a very expansive coalition here in South Dakota, all rowing in the same direction.”
South Dakotans Decide Healthcare has the support of South Dakota’s three major health systems – Avera, Monument and Sanford – as well as the South Dakota Farmers Union, South Dakota Education Association, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, AARP South Dakota, South Dakota State Medical Association, South Dakota Nurses Association, South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations, Community HealthCare Association of the Dakotas and Great Plains Tribal Leader’s Health Board.
Marcus said the variety of organizations supporting Medicaid expansion in South Dakota shows how the program will help low-income individuals and families, while aiding the state’s economy.
“$1.3 billion over the first five years of the program coming back into our state, that’s our tax dollars we’ve paid coming back to us,” Marcus said. “There are healthcare implications, there are economic implications, there are all these reasons why this is going to be good for our state.”