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EMTs, Firefighters Say South Dakota Needs Medicaid Expansion, Vote Yes on Amendment D

First responders—firefighters and EMTs, the heroes Kristi Noem likes to have her picture taken with—say they’re voting to expand Medicaid in South Dakota.

At an online announcement today, the South Dakota Emergency Medical Services Association and the South Dakota Firefighters Association said they support Amendment D, the initiative on our November ballot to finally sign South Dakota up for the big federal Medicaid dollars we’ve been passing up for nearly a decade since the Affordable Care Act made this assistance available, because it will do good for South Dakotans and the economy at little cost to the state:

[Sandy Frentz, co-chair of the American Heart Association South Dakota Cabinet for Medicaid Expansion]: “It delivers affordable healthcare options to people working hard at jobs that don’t offer insurance and brings our tax dollars back home to create jobs, grow our economy and strengthen rural hospitals and healthcare systems, as well as first responder services.”

…“Federal funding will pay for 90% of expansion costs, with the state of South Dakota responsible for the remaining 10%,” Frentz said. “Expanding Medicaid means South Dakota will save more than $63 million in general funds in the first two years alone as result of additional funding from [American Rescue Plan Act] programs. Medicaid expansion would also return more than $1.3 billion tax dollars to South Dakotans from Washington, D.C. over a five-year period” [Hunter Dunteman, “South Dakota EMS, Firefighters Association Endorse Medicaid Expansion, Citing Multi-Faceted Benefits,” Mitchell Republic, 2022.08.09

EMS Association VP Amy Marsh says those Medicaid expansion dollars will benefit everyone in rural South Dakota, not just new Medicaid enrollees, by keeping their rural hospitals afloat:

“Rural areas need Medicaid expansion to make it more likely that people will have a hospital and healthcare providers in their community that they can trust.”

With more options for local healthcare, Marsh said rural residents would no longer have to take “long drives” to receive care from providers in larger cities [Dunteman, 2022.08.09].

Viborg fireman and Firefighters Association president Charlie Kludt joined Marsh and Frentz to say, Vote Yes on D!

Maybe Noem can sabotage this endorsement by noting that first responders always run toward danger….

Update 17:19 CDT: The American Heart Association releases this video of today’s announcement…but they don’t allow embeds outside of YouTube, so you’ll have to click to view.


  1. MD 2022-08-09 18:40

    That’s because it impacts their bottom line as well
    Most EMS in the state is built in the backs of volunteers – and EMS eats up volunteers and spits (or burns) them out.
    The current state of affairs in EMS is rapidly changing towards more employed EMS workers and fewer volunteers. Taxpayers don’t want to pay for that, so they need to make it up by getting paid for the services they provide – including through Medicaid expansion.

    Day County has been a fun example of starting taxpayer funded EMS. After they cut the subsidy for the private ambulance service, they decided to close up shop. Now, they are struggling to build a new EMS service before the private one closes and the county commission is hesitant to spend the money to make it happen.

  2. P. Aitch 2022-08-09 22:19

    I taught swimming lessons. Some kids would jump into the water right away. It took a few kids the whole summer. Ten to twelve hour long lessons to even get into the pool. There was no benefit in trying to persuade the fearful kids. You either have courage or you don’t.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-08-10 04:20

    P, is South Dakota really afraid to expand Medicaid, or is it just spiteful of ObamaCare and the poor whom it exploits?

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-08-10 04:25

    MD, you give an excellent example of perhaps the most important economic problem South Dakota faces: after generations of getting by on the cheap and exploiting faithful citizens who will provide services out of a sense of obligation, we now have to pay market rates to meet our needs.

    Does Day County have the tax base to sustain profession EMS? Medicaid expansion will bring some money to the hospital in Webster; how much more would be needed to sustain EMS?

  5. P. Aitch 2022-08-10 07:49

    CAH – Believe the fear is an inability to trust in the state’s innovation skills. Had SD embraced the expansion ten years ago nothing bad would have happened. But, if something bad had happened the trust is that SD would be able to tweak, change, or remove the program with near zero harm done. Being progressive entails being confident in your abilities to adapt and move forward incrementally. Fear in your ability is what causes a state to be continually ten years behind. Sitting back and waiting just makes your butt sore and your soul deflated.
    To answer your question, my observation is that the people want to move forward but the legislature is the anchor stopping them. Obamacare was just the political excuse of the day. Helping the poor doesn’t attract more poor people or deter the poor from moving closer to middle class. It’s just another political excuse.

  6. John 2022-08-10 09:10

    P, here’s how a grandpa got his brat into the pool.

    Appreciate your thoughts on fear, progressives, and the loathsome rearward-looking, fearful, OLD South Dakota legislature.

  7. grudznick 2022-08-10 18:25

    MD is righter than right, these first responders are backing this for the free money. Free money turns heads. It is the demon weed of business. You have to be tougher than most first responders to say no to the fake free federal funds. I am disappointed in the firefighters in particular. They are just not informed well.

  8. P. Aitch 2022-08-10 19:06

    grudznick doesn’t comprehend that things are cheaper when purchased as a group. Group money isn’t free money. It’s low-cost money. That’s where your monthly Social Security deposit comes from, grudz. The group decided that old effs like you shouldn’t be turned out into the streets just because it would be cheaper for America. Your parents group decided to buy your healthcare and breakfast as a group. America was born, fought the British and Germans, and grew powerful as groups not as individuals. America, as a group, pays for South Dakota’s bills because we’re stronger when we take care of the least among us. That’s you, grudznick.

  9. grudznick 2022-08-10 19:51

    Mr. H sure nails it with the Obamacare stigmas. Nobody likes the stigmas that Mr. Obama tried to shove down our maws. He was nearly as bad as Mr. Trump.

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