PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota’s Medicaid program has been able to make million of dollars of improvements in recent years, because the federal government has paid full cost of health care for thousands of American Indian patients, officials told state lawmakers this week.
Brenda Tidball-Zeltinger and state Medicaid director Bill Snyder reported to the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee on Tuesday that coordinated-care agreements saved state government $9.3 million in the 2020 budget year that ended June 30 and $7.4 million from July 1 through March 30 in the current budget year.
“This is significant in South Dakota,” said Tidball-Zeltinger, a deputy secretary for the state Department of Social Services.
The savings come from the federal Indian Health Service paying 100% for services delivered outside the IHS system to American Indian patients who qualify for Medicaid. Normally state government pays 42% of the costs for Medicaid services to lower-income people and others such as pregnant women and people with disabilities.
American Indian people comprise 38% of the roughly 116,000 Medicaid-eligible group in South Dakota. The savings that result from IHS paying for 100% of non-IHS services received by American Indian people are invested back into South Dakota’s Medicaid system in various ways, such as state government paying higher rates to providers, and providing more services and grants.
Another feature of the coordinated care has nurses embedded at IHS facilities in Eagle Butte, Rosebud and Pine Ridge.
The program began during the previous administration of Governor Dennis Daugaard and has continued under Governor Kristi Noem.
IHS officials haven’t announced decisions on pending agreements with 13 more community-service providers. Representative John Mills asked whether South Dakota’s three members of Congress have been called on. Tidball-Zeltinger said she couldn’t speak specifically to that.
“We’re all behind you trying to get the contracts done,” Senator Jean Hunhoff said.