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SD Residents Talk Medicaid Expansion



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A special Medicaid Task Force is in Sioux Falls for the next couple of days to find the pro’s and con’s of expanding the state’s Medicaid program to the Affordable Care Act. When they do, they will report back to Gov. Dennis Daugaard and the state legislature on ways the state could best accomplish the expansion if it were to do so.

Currently over 144,000 South Dakotans are covered by Medicaid. If the state were to expand and include the Affordable Care Act, an additional 44,000 could be insured under the program. The question remains on how much it could cost everyone in the long run. And on Tuesday night the answers from both those for and against the expansion were heard.

Over one hundred people packed the Washington room at the Ramkota Hotel in Sioux Falls Tuesday night. And they were all ready to voice their concerns on whether or not South Dakota should jump on the bandwagon, and expand its current Medicaid Program into the Affordable Care Act.

Jim Holloway was one of those people.

“The federal deficit is at $17 trillion, and we are going to get that 100 percent from the federal government? I just don't think that's smart to do,” said Holloway, an expansion opponent.
     
Holloway said with the federal deficit being so high, he doesn't believe that the government will cover the cost of the expansion for the first three years like they said they will. And he said even if they do, it will cost taxpayers millions in the long run.

"If they do fund as much as they say they will, it will still cost South Dakota tax payers $95 million through 2022,” Holloway said.

But Cindy Franklin said it’s about more than money, it’s about making sure people are healthy. Franklin was diagnosed with cancer in 2012, and is ineligible to receive Medicaid.  Without having assistance to pay for her medical bills she has no way of knowing if the disease has come back.
 
“If it comes back they need to find out as soon as possible, so they need I need to have a colonoscopy,” said Franklin.

But Franklin said that would cost her $1,500 out of her pocket. And the task force needs to realize that expanding the Medicaid Program extends far beyond just regular check-ups. Some medical issues are life threatening.

As for Holloway he said the best people to help those who would benefit from the expansion, like Franklin, are those who are in South Dakota.      

“Who can best assess the situation? The local church, the local charities, all of that,” said Holloway.

As of June 14, 26 states supported the expansion of their Medicaid Programs to the Affordable Care Act. Minnesota and North Dakota are two participating, while Iowa is making its own plan of expansion. Gov. Daugaard said in his December 4 budget address that he doesn’t plan on expanding the state’s health program right now.

Gov.  Daugaard has to decide by the middle of 2013 whether or not he wants to expand the state’s Medicaid Program. If he chooses to do so, the new program would go into effect January of 2014.
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