Two different petitions for Medicaid expansion circulating in South Dakota

Published: Jul. 5, 2021 at 10:40 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Two different groups are now circulating petitions to expand Medicaid in South Dakota.

The backers of “Dakotans for Health” and the coalition “South Dakotans Decide Healthcare” say they both have a common goal: get Medicaid expansion on the ballot and then get South Dakotans out to vote.

If enough signatures are collected both initiatives would show up on the 2022 ballot.

“We are missing out on a huge opportunity in terms of covering over 42,000 South Dakotans who are needing health care coverage,” said David Benson, South Dakotans Decide Healthcare coalition member.

Both petitions would expand Medicaid for anyone in South Dakota between age 18 and 65 whose income is below 133% of the federal poverty level.

“Honestly, that there’s so much energy surrounding Medicaid expansion is a good thing and two groups trying to get this on the ballot, I don’t see it as necessarily a bad thing,” said Pamela Cole, Dakotans for Health grassroots organizer.

Benson says there is one difference in the language used for the South Dakotans Decide Healthcare petition, after seeing similar proposals from other states.

“In Nebraska, they passed it through a ballot measure, but because there was not an implementation date, there was a delay and, in our language, which is different from the other ballot measure, we specifically specify an implementation date, that would start July first of 2023.”

The South Dakotans Decide Healthcare petition started 2 weeks ago and tries to make use of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

“Our petition is the only Medicaid initiative that will reflect the additional funding provided through the American Rescue Plan act that was recently passed in Washington, offering a big financial bonus for expanding Medicaid to those 42,500 South Dakotans,” said Benson.

Dakotans for Health has been collecting signatures since March for their petition. Cole says both petitions are looking for the same outcome.

Members of both organizations are not just focused on getting their petitions signed, but to educate people about Medicaid and the potential expansion.

“Neither group can be everywhere at both times so I think it would be very important for people to become educated on what Medicaid expansion would do,” said Cole.

Members of both groups say it is alright to sign both petitions and encourage everyone to learn as they can on the topic.

A link to the Dakotans for Health website can be found by clicking here.

A link to the South Dakotans Decide Healthcare website can be found by clicking here.

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