Health insurance Medicaid expansion in South Dakota still undecided

Dennis Daugaard on South Dakota Health Insurance Exchange

Dennis Daugaard on South Dakota Health Insurance ExchangeProviders of healthcare services in the state are urging lawmakers to broaden the program.

With the election behind us, the healthcare reforms are now certain to take place, and states are now facing a tight deadline to make their health insurance system decisions, including whether or not they will be establishing their own exchanges, and if they will take part in the optional Medicaid expansions.

At the moment, hospitals and doctors in South Dakota are asking the state to widen its Medicaid.

They have been urging the state government to take this additional step, as it will make sure that thousands more low income residents of the state will be able to receive health insurance coverage. However, Governor Dennis Daugaard has said that it isn’t likely that the state will be able to achieve a widening of Medicaid, for at least a few years, until they can have the chance to further examine the potential costs.

Experts are predicting thousands in the state to be without health insurance if Medicaid doesn’t expand.

According to data from the South Dakota Association of Health Care Organizations, without changing the eligibility for Medicaid in South Dakota, there will remain approximately 48,000 residents of the state who will not have health insurance coverage.

The president of the South Dakota State Medical Association, Dr. Rob Allison, asked “If we’re left out of the benefits that can come from the Affordable Care Act, how do we take care of the people of South Dakota who are below the federal poverty level?”

The Affordable Care Act was originally created to make all of the states broaden the eligibility rules for their Medicaid programs in order to make it easier for their residents to be able to obtain health insurance coverage. But the ruling by the Supreme Court in June said that this particular element of the law cannot be forced on the states and that they can choose not to expand those programs if they believe it is best for them.

Governor Daugaard has not ruled out the expansion, but says that greater analysis of the costs will be required before he can make that decision. He said that he would think about increasing the size of the program once more can be understood regarding the impact of that decision and when he finds out the amount of flexibility the state will have in the program’s administration.

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