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Medicaid expansion in South Dakota?

To expand Medicaid or not ... it may be the question you see on your ballot in 2022.
Published: Jul. 21, 2020 at 6:24 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) -To expand Medicaid or not ... it may be the question you see on your ballot in 2022.

“Sometimes the working poor are probably in the tightest place,” Burke Eilers, CEO of Wellfully, said.

On Friday, State Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg filed explanations for Medicaid expansion.

South Dakota is one of 13 states that has not expanded Medicaid under the 2010 federal Affordable Care Act.

But it could be a good move, Eilers said.

“Would open the door to a greater segment of the community that may need or have needs,” he said.

According to a 2018 report, 147,438 people were on Medicaid.

The report reads, “Medicaid is South Dakota’s largest source of coverage for long‐term care, covering 53% of all nursing home residents.”

About 95 percent of the children at Wellfully are on Medicaid, mainly under Title 19.

“Especially related to COVID, when people are stressed out and hurting more economically there seems to be a correlation to increase use of substances and I guess the only negative thing is that we could be full,” Eilers said.

But there's another financial component to keep in mind.

The state's reimbursement rate covers about 85 percent of Wellfully's cost but for the group home they rely on local help to pay the extra 500 dollars a day that Medicaid doesn't cover.

“We are a non-profit but we are not really set up to take losses. So yeah to break even would be the ultimate goal,” Eilers said.

The sponsor, Rick Weiland, will have to obtain about 34 thousand signatures for the proposed constitutional amendment.

He will have till November 2021 to do so, for it to potentially be put on the ballot in 2022.

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