Government agencies should be able to get restitution on medical services: S.D. Senate

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Government agencies would be eligible for criminal restitution on medical services under a bill approved Thursday in the South Dakota Senate.

The legislation from the state Department of Social Services originally sought to add Medicaid, but the Senate Judiciary Committee chose a broader definition.

Senator David Wheeler said Thursday the proposal was “a legislative response” to the South Dakota Supreme Court decision in State v. Bryant that found a criminal didn’t have to reimburse Medicaid for medical services provided to a stabbing victim.

 “The fix to that is to make sure we can treat government agencies as victims for that purpose,” Wheeler, a Huron Republican and lawyer, said.

Senators voted 35-0 for it. The House of Representatives considers it next.

During the Senate committee hearing Tuesday, the director for the medical services division in the state Department of Social Services said he preferred the legislation refer specifically to Medicaid.

“This bill would treat Medicaid consistently with private insurers,” Bill Snyder said.

Private insurance providers already can collect under South Dakota law.

But the committee adopted Wheeler’s suggestion and recommended the revised version’s passage.

Wheeler said Thursday it would apply only when a government acts as the equivalent of an insurer.

More than 115,00 people receive Medicaid services in South Dakota, according to Snyder.

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