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Medicaid Expansion Work Requirement Fails in Senate Committee

Representative Tony Venhuizen (R-13/Sioux Falls) got the House to go along with his attempt to gum up Medicaid expansion with a work requirement, but he couldn’t swing the Senate.

House Joint Resolution 5004 sought to place on the 2024 ballot an amendment adding a work requirement to Amendment D, which voters approved last November to finally add South Dakota to the list of sensible states that are saving money and saving lives by expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. HJR 5004 rolled through the House with minimal opposition.

But in Senate Health and Human Services Friday, the coalition that brought us Amendment D, including the big hospitals represented by former Republican legislator Tim Rave himself, testified against HJR 5004, saying the work requirement would deny coverage to low-income South Dakotans who need help the most. Opponents also gained traction with arguments about the unfairness of the Legislature’s arrogant attempts to override the popular will expressed through the initiative process that brought us Amendment D:

The only way to change the constitution is another statewide vote. Not wanting to override the voters’ will was a reason that Republican Sen. Michael Rohl gave Friday, after he called for HJR-5004 to be set aside.

The Legislature had a dozen years or more when something could have been put in state law, according to Rohl. “But we didn’t,” he said.

…People who want the Medicaid work requirement should have to gather signatures and submit them to get the question on the 2024 ballot, just as the Medicaid expansion supporters did for the 2022 ballot, said Jennifer Stalley, representing the Community Healthcare Association of the Dakotas and AARP-South Dakota [Bob Mercer, “SD Senate Panel Says No to Medicaid-Work Question,” KELO-TV, 2023.02.24].

Senate HHS voted 5–2 to kill HJR 5004. Republicans Rohl, Reed, Diedrich, and Davis joined Democrat Bordeaux in burying this bad amendment. Republicans Novstrup and Tobin voted to keep HJR 5004 alive. Perhaps Novstrup and Tobin will take Stalley’s advice and take out an initiative petition to place a Medicaid work requirement on the 2024 ballot. But if Novstrup and Tobin are so inclined, Tobin had better pay attention this morning in Senate State Affairs when House Bill 1200 comes up. That unconstitutional bill would require Tobin and Novstrup to run around the state collecting 1,001 signatures from every Legislative district on their initiative petition, and they would find that task prohibitively expensive.


  1. Mark Anderson 2023-02-27 06:25

    You know of course the Republican view of human nature. It’s sad but true they are dilberts all through.

  2. larry kurtz 2023-02-27 06:35

    Not only has the South Dakota Republican Party failed American Indians by not expanding Medicaid it has failed veterans and the elderly: its historically loyal voter base. Farmers in South Dakota and in greater Trumpistan are ending their lives because of antics like Mr. Venhuisen’s.

    Suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in South Dakota (SD) but was the leading cause of death for individuals aged 10-29 years and was the 7th leading cause of death among American Indians (2021). South Dakota had the 7th highest suicide rate in the nation (provisional 2021). In 2021, SD had 202 suicide deaths and a rate of 22.6 per 100,000, which was the highest ever recorded. Over the last 10 years, suicide deaths have increased by 50%, from 135 suicide deaths in 2012 to 202 in 2021.

  3. larry kurtz 2023-02-27 06:39

    Yes, socialized agriculture, socialized dairies, socialized cheese, socialized livestock production, a socialized timber industry, socialized air service, socialized freight rail, a socialized nursing home industry, a socialized internet, socialized gas well remediation and now a socialized water system are all fine with Republicans in South Dakota but then they insist single-payer medical insurance is socialized medicine.

  4. Tom 2023-02-27 08:12

    “Socialism is the ism IS the ism of us all.” – Chad Mitchell

  5. Donald Pay 2023-02-27 10:08

    How about Noem start working for her socialized salary?

  6. Arlo Blundt 2023-02-27 18:58

    The “work requirement” for Medicaid participation is, of course, a political gimmick. In application it is a nightmare for all involved: Medicaid recipient, employer, employer’s supervisor, government office overseeing the program. A totally inept concept. Perfect for the Republican Party.

  7. Jenny 2023-02-27 22:01

    Good, Prince Tony of the Family of Daugaard doesn’t get his way for once.

Comments are closed.