South Dakota voters approve Medicaid expansion
South Dakotans voted Tuesday to amend their state constitution to expand Medicaid coverage.
South Dakotans voted Tuesday to amend their state constitution to expand Medicaid coverage, making it the seventh state to broaden eligibility for the public health insurance program through voter-approved ballot measures.
The amendment, which would change the Medicaid threshold to those below 133% of the federal poverty line, passed with 56% of the vote.
“There are 42,500 people who will now have access to health care — preventive health care, medicine, tests — that simply can’t afford private insurance,” said Rick Weiland, co-founder of Dakotans for Health, an advocacy group that backed the measure. “They found themselves in that gap between traditional Medicaid, which they don’t qualify for, and private insurance they don’t have the resources to pay for.”
Republican lawmakers in South Dakota unsuccessfully tried to block the Medicaid measure earlier this year. They placed an amendment on the June primary ballot that would have required ballot measures that increase taxes or fees or cost the state $10 million or more over five years to pass with 60% of the vote.
Voters rejected the proposed change to the state’s ballot measure rules. The Medicaid amendment only needed to win a simple majority.
Weiland and his team are now working on gathering signatures for an amendment that would codify a right to abortion in the state constitution.
“I think we have a real possibility of pulling a Kansas here in South Dakota,” he said.
Kansas voters earlier this year rejected a ballot measure that would have affirmed that there’s no right to abortion in the state constitution.