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SD Hospitals Copy Dakotans for Health in Drafting Two Petitions, Amendment and Law, for Medicaid Expansion

By the way, as I analyze the newly posted draft amendment petition on redistricting (whose drafters, contrary to the SDGOP spin blog’s hyperventilations, are not violating any state campaign finance law by submitting a petition to LRC and publishing a website without organizing a ballot question committee), I notice that the hospital lobby is copying Dakotans for Health in proposing both a constitutional amendment to expand Medicaid (see my Saturday analysis here) and an initiated law to write that plan into state law.

Interestingly, the hospital lobby’s draft initiated law plays a little word game, saying it will “provide medical assistance” to low-income South Dakotans and hiding “Medicaid expansion” in the arcane reference to 42 U.S.C. Section 1396a(a)(10)(A)(i)(VIII). The hospital lobby’s draft amendment, just like both the constitutional amendment and the initiated law on Dakotans for Health’s petitions, would “provide Medicaid benefits.” The hospital lobby’s amendment includes the same superfluous enactment date and the same unenforceable March 1, 2023 due date for submission of the state Medicaid expansion plan.

I don’t see any other tricks in the draft initiated law that makes me think either of the hospital lobby’s measures offer any substantive difference from the Dakotans for Health petitions. They seem to represent an almost pure copycat approach, cribbing the work done by first-moving Dakotans for Health but not offering a clear policy reason for doing so.


  1. Donald Pay 2020-12-16

    If they are trying to hide Medicaid expansion by using medical assistance, the truth is it’s the same. Some states (MN, WI, PA) call their Medicaid programs “Medical Assistance.” Probably some out-of-state attorneys didn’t understand that South Dakota doesn’t.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-12-17

    Calling it “medical assistance” seems to unnecessarily sacrifice the easy branding a circulator can use. Shout, “Sign here to expand Medicaid!” and you’ll get a lot more immediate signatures than you will by shouting, “Sign here to expand medical assistance!”

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