Press "Enter" to skip to content

HJR 5004: Venhuizen Trying to Sabotage Medicaid Expansion with Work Requirement

While the Senate slaps Julie Frye-Mueller around for bucking one-party rule, the House wants to slap voters around for the same grave offense against the Legislature’s privilege of running South Dakota without dissent.

Yesterday the full House approved House Joint Resolution 5004, Representative Tony Venhuizen’s (R-13.Sioux Falls) proposal to roll back the expansion of Medicaid that voters approved less than three months ago in Amendment D. Venhuizen is clever enough not to propose full repeal of the Medicaid expansion that South Dakota Republicans have resisted over a decade, against the popular will and the empirical evidence that Medicaid expansion is so beneficial that not one state that has adopted this smart Affordable Care Act provision has backed out. Venhuizen and his fellow Republicans simply want to throw a spoke in Medicaid expansion’s wheel by allowing the state to impose a work requirement on any able-bodied person eligible for the benefits.

So suppose an eligible parent is able-bodied but says the best use of his ability is to stay home and take care of the kids. That’s work, right? Representative Linda Duba (D-15/Sioux Falls) thinks so:

Representatives who opposed the resolution questioned what able-bodied would mean and cautioned against suggesting an amendment so recently after the voters approved Medicaid expansion. Rep. Linda Duba, D-Sioux Falls, said many of her constituents might be considered able-bodied, but don’t work for a variety of reasons.

“I spoke to so many mothers and fathers where one was staying home because they couldn’t afford to go to work and pay for child care,” Duba said. “Or they were not on insurance because they couldn’t afford it or their employer didn’t offer insurance. For these people, Medicaid expansion is critically important” [Makenzie Huber, “House Sends Medicaid Work Requirement Ballot Measure to Senate,” South Dakota Searchlight, 2023.01.31].

Duba and the other six Democrats in the House all voted nay on this assault on the voters and on low-income South Dakotans. So did Republican Greg Jamison (R-12/Sioux Falls), who spoke up in favor of Amendment D last year.

But Republican resistance to majority rule is why we have to put the people’s will in the state Constitution. Since we have written Medicaid expansion (effective July 1!) into the Constitution, Venhuizen and the SDGOP have to write the work requirement into the Constitution. Any Constitutional amendment requires approval of the people. Thus, passing HJR 5004 in itself won’t impose the work requirement; it will only send that work requirement to a vote of the people in November 2024.

So you know what to do, voters. Don’t let the Republicans once again overturn what you voted for. Get ready to show up at the polls and vote this attack on your voting rights down.


  1. O 2023-02-01 08:14

    That was close. For a moment there, the pro-life party almost allowed the worker class to have a right to health care. We all know that health care needs to be a commodity that is used to coerce a cheap labor force to drive the misaligned economy and enrich the owners. Thank heavens the SD GOP was looking out for 1% yet again.

  2. Richard Schriever 2023-02-01 08:45

    So now when your cheapskate minimum wage-paying employer (Novstrup for ex:) lays you off your seasonal job, you lose your health care and get sick before the next season and can’t come back to work or get healthy again. That seems like the sort of scheme a demon straight out of Beelzebub University would dream up. Republicans should be labeled as what they are – anti-socialist sadists.

  3. Loren 2023-02-01 09:04

    Medicaid, marijuana, minimum wage… all voter approved, all under attack from the “conservatives” in the legislature. You know the old saying that “voters are actually pretty smart?” Uh, yah, would you mind if I take exception to that? They vote FOR a policy and then vote for individuals that will UNDO what they just voted for. Interesting mentality.

  4. larry kurtz 2023-02-01 09:09

    Wendy Soulek is chief operating officer and heir to Lantis Enterprises—a Spearditch, South Dakota company that had been operating 21 long term care centers, 6 Alzheimer’s Units, 14 personal care/assisted living centers, and 5 home health agencies including facilities in Montana.

    Because of Republicans ten properties closed in Montana last year and in October Lantis announced the closure of their fifth facility including Rocky Mountain Care Center in Helena. Lantis shuttered the Glacier Care Center in Cut Bank yesterday and closed Beartooth Manor in Columbus on January 7.

  5. Donald Pay 2023-02-01 09:32

    What is the definition of “able-bodied” and “work requirement?” The proposed amendment has no definition for its key additions to the current language. There are lots of definitions for “able-bodied.” Pick up several dictionaries and you will find a lot of different ways to define it. “Work requirement” is pretty vague, also. Does that mean, for example, a volunteer position or one hour per week of sweeping the streets, or a forty hour per week job 100 miles down the road?

    This added language may sound great, but I need to see the fine print, and this proposal, as I read it, means nothing, or rather it means whatever anyone wants to read into it. The fact that there is a “may” in the imposition of a work requirement tells you all you need to know about this proposal. It’s bullcrap. It ain’t gonna happen.

    I’m pro-job. My job before retirement was to find jobs for people who are “disabled.” Some of these folks held six jobs. How about we Venhuizen’s government check to that standard? He ought to be ashamed taking government money for the kind of sloppy legislating and lack of initiative.

    The attempted imposition of work requirements in other states has not panned out very well. In several instances where states tried this, it ended up as a direct attack on rural populations, who had the most difficulty, both in finding jobs that qualified under state job requirements and in finding adequate medical care, even with Medicaid.

    It’s too bad that urban elitists think they need to lord it over the rural folks who have less job opportunities available to them, but that’s the modern Republican Party, who think the rural areas are best suited for waste dumps and pig manure.

  6. Mark Anderson 2023-02-01 09:50

    Oh Cory, you know the route.. In the Republican “mind”, people are lazy, must be forced to work, don’t deserve anything at all. Rights, who needs those, minorities are all bad, gay and lesbians are sinners and the term LGBTQ is just too hard to remember. Social Security and Medicare are entitlements, Medicaid is welfare and no one in So Dak deserves that.

  7. Eve Fisher 2023-02-01 09:53

    Two GOP mantras:
    “We must make it harder for poor people to survive because otherwise how will they ever build character?”
    “We must make it easier for rich people to get everything they want because otherwise they’ll be less rich.”

  8. bearcreekbat 2023-02-01 10:27

    Given the litigation and factual history of such attempts by States to impose work requirements for Medicaid eligibility (see link in Donald’s above comment) it seems this is more evidence of certain legislators’ desire to spend a ton of SD taxpayer money on litigation unlikely to succeed or benefit the people of SD in any way. Add to the lonshot that the State might survive such litigation the slim chances of approval of such a program by HHS after seeing what happened in the New Hampshire case seems just one more way to waste taxpayer dollars.

    And, according to the evidence from other states efforts, even overcoming such longshots simply helps no one in SD but damages the State itself. But who knows, maybe such efforts will get these legislators some private campaign donations that help pay for personal re-election and build personal nest eggs. After all, there has to be some motive for such a waste of taxpayors dollars, right?

  9. buckobear 2023-02-01 10:37

    Good ol’ South Dakota. Mired firmly in the twentieth century and longing for days gone by.

  10. ABC 2023-02-01 11:20

    What was the Nazi slogan at the gates of Auschwitz? “Work makes you free?”

    The voters of course will kill this Constitutional Amendment in 2024 at the ballot box.

    Our pro Nazi R party– proposing a law that contradicts Federal law — will be dismantled and will go from 90% jackbooted goosesteppers to 0% in all of our elected positions.

    Opposing the will of the people, it’s time to bring this jingoist party into extinction. We the voters are the meteors, the Republicans are dinosaurs!

  11. larry kurtz 2023-02-01 11:45

    Hey, if Mr. Venhuisen wants to feed from the Qochtopus gravy train he has to prove he’s immune to the misery, hopelessness and despair his father-in-law and political party have heaped on South Dakotans.

  12. P. Aitch 2023-02-01 11:50

    There have not been any Medicaid work requirements in effect anywhere in the country since the spring of 2020. And in 2021, the Biden administration officially withdrew federal approval for all of the previously-approved Medicaid work requirement waivers.

  13. Richard Schriever 2023-02-01 13:05

    The SD Constitution says all members of the well-organized militia mandated by the US Constitution’s 2nd amendment must be able-bodied, male, between the ages of 18 and 55 and respond to the governor’s call to action. If we are to take constitutional authority seriously, no one else in the state should be keeping and bearing arms. Guess that goes to show how much it really matters.

  14. O 2023-02-01 13:11

    Bravo, Eve!

  15. cibvet 2023-02-01 15:16

    Richard–Could be a new use for the proposed gun range. I’m thinking it would be quite amusing watching these fat boys do a 100 yard low crawl thru some mud and cactus. I suppose they would want an ambulance on site, but no, let them wait for one like everyone else does.

  16. e platypus onion 2023-02-01 15:41

    Maybe Ven Lowzen should focus on the real problem, forcing a work requirement on the absentee and practically worthless guv Frequent Flyer.

  17. M 2023-02-01 17:47

    So are they going to wait until 2024 to do anything with what we approved?

  18. grudznick 2023-02-01 19:00

    Do you fellows think that Mr. Venhuizen has ever flown on the fancy new plane the government has? Do you think they have let him take the wheel, just for a bit for fun?

  19. Caleb 2023-02-01 20:16

    Elites have falsely wielded the platitude that “nobody wants to work” against our citizenry while empowering many within to use it against their fellow people for at least the last hundred years. Similarly, leading up to the vote on Amendment D, many prominent figures with the privilege to spew their empty rhetoric at the general public in wide reaching papers, blogs, etc claimed that Medicaid expansion would hurt workers and discourage work.

    If you ask me, HJR 5004 is the opposing camp’s veiled attempt to extend their failed campaign against Amendment D since they didn’t get their way, they simply have the positions of power needed toward that end, and they possibly have the patience and faith that their propaganda can turn past voters and indoctrinate incoming voters, whether recent immigrant citizens or children coming of legal voting age before the next general election.

    Jamison put it well when suggesting the House is sending a terrible message to voters. I’d certainly say they have.

  20. Francis Schaffer 2023-02-01 21:27

    I love that you mentioned entitlements.. I have wanted an opportunity to explain something of which I recently became aware. Every exemption in the IRS tax code is an entitlement for someone. Many of the tax entitlements are not available to many wage earners. Also Social Security tax and withholding tax stop being applied at $147000 in 2022 and $160200 in 2023. So those complaining about entitlements can have all their income taxed as ordinary income. Thoughts? Not just responses but actual thoughts. I realize some will be left out of the discussion and that is exactly what I would like.

  21. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-02-02 05:10

    Oh, Donald, I’m sure Rep. Venhuizen has that fine print in his briefcase ready to be published in the statutes he and his colleagues would enact in 2025 following approval of this amendment. Thye don’t want those definitions engraved in the Constitution; they want those definitions in statute where the Legislature can control them.

  22. M 2023-02-02 06:17

    This is another woman bashing bill. Who do you know that’s on Medicare? I know a couple men but it’s mostly women and children. We know there are many one parent homes in S.D. without financial help from the other spouse. And we know how expensive it is to carry, birth, and raise a child. Now abortion is illegal, the day after pills and contraception on their way out of reach for who, the fathers? These men in Pierre want to force women and children into poverty without a hope of ever climbing out.

    These fascists make me sick. Personal freedom for who?

  23. Richard Schriever 2023-02-02 08:57

    Frances Schaefer, Property “ownership” is also an entitlement – something one is entitled to or has title to.

  24. Mick Niess 2023-02-02 11:58

    Most folks who are not “able bodied” will not benefit from M.E. they already qualify for medicaid.

    The “able bodied” ie South Dakota’s working poor is exactly who M.E. is supposed to benefit. Now just when relief might be in sight here comes the gop to snatch it away with paperwork.

    “Go back to your job washing dishes for terrible pay, you don’t need access to Healthcare.” Sounds pretty heartless to me.

  25. grudznick 2023-02-02 20:44

    The legislatures should control all statutes, and the public should only control the legislatures and have no ignorant meddling in the statutes.

  26. Mick 2023-02-04 10:43

    Will Medicare Expansion be able to be put into effect as was voted in? Or will everything be put on hold until this “able-bodied” bs is voted on.

  27. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-02-04 19:29

    Mick, HJR 5004 should not interfere with the timely implementation of Amendment D. Nothing the Legislature or Governor do this year can change the voters’ mandate that South Dakota expand Medicaid effective July 1.

  28. e platypus onion 2023-02-16 15:16

    Pence tells Fake Noize that he wants to cut Medicare and SS and replace both with an imaginary magat better deal similar to the health insurance plan magats came up with to replace Obamacare, all those years ago.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.