Press "Enter" to skip to content

Senate Rejects Medicaid Expansion; Time for Voters to Take Charge

Monday’s weak committee approval of Senate Bill 186 foreshadowed its dismal prospects in the full Senate. Senator Wayne Steinhauer’s attempt to beat voters to the punch and expand Medicaid in a way that keeps the program under the Legislature’s control failed yesterday on a 12–23 vote on the Senate floor.

Steinhauer managed to get eight other Republicans (Hunhoff, Tobin, Breitling, Johns, Schoenfish, Smith, Diedrich, and Rusch) to vote with him and the three Senate Democrats, but most of Steinhauer’s Republican colleagues rejected Medicaid expansion, saying it would grow government and take money away from education. That argument mimics the message Republicans get from their corporate overlords at Americans for Prosperity, which has been sending this message to mailboxes around the state:

Americans for Prosperity, direct mail, received by Dakota Free Press from eager reader 2022.02.15
Americans for Prosperity, direct mail, received by Dakota Free Press from eager reader 2022.02.15

AFP and its Republican minions are, of course, completely wrong about the price tag and trade-offs with core services. 38 states have expanded Medicaid, and they all still have higher teacher salaries than South Dakota. (The only state with lower teacher pay, Mississippi, has not expanded Medicaid.) Medicaid expansion reduces costs associated with uncompensated care, stimulates state economies, and often turns out to be budget-neutral or even budget-positive, meaning expanding Medicaid can leave states with more money to spend on education and other core services right alongside the core service of health coverage for our low-income neighbors.

But never mind those benefits, say our myopic Republican leaders, who are more interested in ideology than practical problem-solving. They’re leaving it to voters to solve this problem in November. South Dakotans Decide Healthcare, the group sponsoring Amendment D, says it looks forward to the public vote on writing Medicaid expansion into the South Dakota Constitution in November:

While we thank Sen. Wayne Steinhauer, R-Hartford, and the many other legislators who tried to pass Medicaid expansion this week, and elevated the many positive things expansion will do for South Dakota, it’s clear that the only path to expanding Medicaid in South Dakota is by letting the people vote on it directly,” the statement read. “Amendment D will provide affordable healthcare for 42,500 hard-working South Dakotans, return $1.3 billion of our tax dollars to South Dakota, and help keep our rural hospitals open. We look forward to passing Amendment D on November 8th, 2022 [SDDH, quoted in Joe Sneve, “Legislature Leaving Medicaid Expansion in Hands of South Dakota Voters,” Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 2022.02.15].

To improve the chances that voters can pass Medicaid expansion in November, Dakotans for Health continues to circulate its petition to place an initiated law expanding Medicaid on the November ballot. Dakotans for Health is also mobilizing opposition to Amendment C, the Republican trick we vote in in June that would require Medicaid expansion and other budget-impacting ballot measures to pass with a 60% supermajority instead of a simple majority. (Hey, hospital lobby! You might want to get on that project, too!)


  1. larry kurtz 2022-02-16 08:02

    Supporters of IM22 in South Dakota collected some 50,000 signatures to put an analog measure on the 2018 ballot so voters would have another chance to overturn the whims of the state’s Koch-mad reactionary electioneers.

  2. jerry 2022-02-16 10:41

    Kind of off topic. Here is some positive medical news regarding medical treatments for the long covid, of which there are plenty of cases in South Dakota that need Medicaid to cover them. Maybe the beginning of how to treat it

  3. Curt 2022-02-16 11:02

    Let them take Ivermectin!

  4. jerry 2022-02-16 12:27

    Yes Curt, and Hydroxychloroquine, by the bucketful. Take all at their own expense while sparing us, the taxpayers, that burden.

  5. mike from iowa 2022-02-16 14:33

    Someone should check magat stock portfolios and see who has been buying Ivermectin stock recently.

  6. Porter Lansing 2022-02-16 14:56

    Einstein would say that living in South Dakota is “insanity”. Over and over and over, again; the choices of the voters are overturned by claiming them unconstitutional, in some way invented just to obviate the people. Even neolithic meso-humanity knew enough to move away from where the poisonous snakes congregated.

  7. All Mammal 2022-02-17 03:32

    It sure makes for good fodder. A month or so ago, a gentleman left a comment about how he and his wife get their sides split reading Mr. H’s informative commentaries.

    Similarly, I get to going, doing my best bourgeoisie Noemy-bloemy impersonation whilst reading her lines, I struggle to breathe. Its so funny because its true.

    It only sucks when my buzz is killed like a happy-go-lucky bird flying majestically..smack into a bank window; because its true.

    Love it or laugh at it, where else can you find such despicable, dirty characters to read in a reputable blog each day as if it were some Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode?

    Thank you Mr. H and thank you to herbal refreshments for numbing the indignant petulance any sane person experiences in this state.

    Because South Dakota has her plundering mutant politicians and adoring trump bums, we are obligated to remain and vote for better leaders and educate quality, smart-lipped agitators.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-02-17 05:22

    Americans for Prosperity’s commitment to resisting Medicaid expansion is puzzling. Medicaid expansion promotes prosperity for more Americans, providing health coverage to keep working people healthy and wealthy… or at least not bankrupt from medical bills and too sick to work. Medicaid expansion does not raise taxes on any rich people in South Dakota; if anything, the data from the 38 states that have adopted this program show that Medicaid expansion generates more economic activity and pays for itself. Medicaid expansion doesn’t threaten any of the practical business interests that Americans for Prosperity purports to defend.

    Why is Americans for Prosperity resisting medicaid expansion? Is it just an ideological obsession against ObamaCare?

  9. M 2022-02-17 06:08

    This is very bad news, especially because I believe a great deal of health problems are caused by environmental factors such as a high incidence of thyroid maladies in this area. The tap water here tests at .263 for dissolvable solids compared to my Zero water with a filter that needs to be changed at .006.
    The Missouri is an endangered cesspool from the oil and ag businesses, our city water pipes contain lead, and nobody cares but everyone pays.

    This bad news makes me sick, just like our water. These congressmen with such wonderful tax paid health insurance are literally killing people by denying them a visit to a clinic 40 miles away, ER even further, or lifesaving surgery in Sious Falls because they are below a certain income level. Can’t afford to live in SD while healthy and can’t afford to seek help when ill.

  10. larry kurtz 2022-02-17 15:04

    Ideological objection to Obamacare is exactly what it is, Mr. Heidelberger. I blame Max Baucus for stabbing President Obama, Tom Daschle and the American people in the back.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.