SD Gov. Delays Medicaid Expansion Proposal: ‘I remain committed to seeing this through.’

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard said Monday he won’t pursue the expansion of medicaid this legislative session. The decision comes just days after federal officials laid out better direction regarding it’s funding policies.

With less than two weeks to go in the legislative session, South Dakota lawmakers won’t be looking at a plan to expand Medicaid in the state, at least not in 2016. Daugaard says there’s simply not enough time, but says that doesn’t mean it’s off the table.

Daugaard said, “I remain committed to seeing this through and I remain optimistic that I will be able to recommend medicaid expansion when the plan is right for South Dakota.”

Daugaard says we still need to look at whether the state can find enough savings to offset the cost for not just the first year, but years to come. Daugaard has proposed expanding medicaid to 50,000 more South Dakotans, but not if the cost of doing so is taken from the general fund. He also won’t do it without approval from the legislature and tribes.

“I remain optimistic that we will find a way to implement this through means that will provide the savings at the time we need those savings to offset the cost of medicaid expansion,” said Daugaard.

With several hot button issues left to be decided, some are relieved that they don’t have to make a decision yet this session.

District 29 Republican Rep. Thomas Brunner said, “It’s a very important subject and to try to tackle it, you know, cram it into the last two weeks here, that’s just asking too much.”

“We’d want to make sure we have everything lined up and we know exactly what it is that we’re looking at,” said District 23 Republican Senate Majority Leader Corey Brown.

Others say we’ve already waited far too long.

“We’re averaging a loss of one tribal member a week in an ambulance going to Valentine because our hospital and emergency room being closed.” said District 26 Democratic Sen. Troy Heinert.

District 22 Democratic Rep. Peggy Gibson said, “I’m just devastated and heartbroken that our 55,000 hardworking South Dakotans, poor hard working South Dakotans have to go another year without healthcare.”

The governor says his proposal could come in the 2017 legislative session or would possibly consider even calling a special session.