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.