I heard another… misrepresentation of Medicaid expansion yesterday. While having a serious conversation about Amendment D, a voter said he’d heard that writing Medicaid expansion into South Dakota’s constitution would force South Dakota to pay for women to travel to other states to abort their pregnancies.
I’m not sure the folks who told my interlocutor that voting Yes on D means paying for abortion travel have read Amendment D correctly.
Second, Medicaid generally doesn’t cover traveling to another state to obtain medical services, absent an emergency.
Third, President Biden’s executive order on protecting women’s right to abortion doesn’t require South Dakota to use its Medicaid funds, current or expanded under Amendment D, to pay for abortions; it only invites states where abortion remains legal to use their own Medicaid funds to cover reproductive services from women who come from states with abortion bans.
Fourth, the Hyde Amendment still prohibits spending federal funds on abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. Federal funds cover 90% of Medicaid expansion (95% for the first couple years in South Dakota, once we pass Amendment D). States can opt to cover abortion for Medicaid recipients with state funds, and 16 states do, but South Dakota does not. Amendment D does not change that policy; only the Legislature can do so, and the Legislature is… unlikely to do so.
Fifth, South Dakota’s current Medicaid program pays for abortions only when necessary to protect the woman’s life. (We are the only state to go beyond the Hyde Amendment in restricting Medicaid spending on abortion.) Amendment D would not change that policy.
Sixth, pregnant women, the only people who can have abortions, are already eligible for Medicaid in South Dakota. Amendment D expands Medicaid to other adults age 18 to 64 making up to 138% of the federal poverty level. None of the 42,500 South Dakotans covered by Amendment D would get Medicaid benefits to have an abortion that they could not get right now without Amendment D. Logically and legally, voting for Amendment D does not pay for a single abortion.
So, voters, if someone tells you Amendment D pays for out-of-state abortions, ask them to read Amendment D, ask them to read the points and especially the links I offer above, and then ask them if they would like to revise their obviously incorrect remark.
But I’ve got to wonder: why are so many of the arguments I’m hearing from opponents of Medicaid expansion based on incorrect claims? It’s almost as if no one can come up with a good argument against Amendment D itself….