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South Dakota one step closer to putting Medicaid work requirement on ballot

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(The Center Square) – The South Dakota House State Affairs Committee on Monday recommended passage of a resolution that would allow voters to decide if they want a work requirement for recipients of Medicaid.

South Dakota voters approved Medicaid expansion in 2022, which took effect on July 1, 2023. The change allows individuals and families who make up to 138% of the federal poverty level to receive the health care plan.

Senate Joint Resolution 501 does not officially authorize a work requirement but gives voters a voice, the bill’s sponsors said. It would apply to any person “eligible under this section, who has not been diagnosed as being physically or mentally disabled,” the resolution said.

“We’re honoring the will of the voters because we are going back to the voters and asking what I view as a clarifying question, not to reverse their decision from last time but to clarify on a particular detail,” Rep. Tony Venhuizen, R-Sioux Falls, told the Senate State Affairs Committee at a hearing last month. “Is this something we should be able to consider?”

Health care groups and some business organizations oppose the resolution.

“Instead of wasting time and resources on another unnecessary ballot amendment, the Legislature should focus on increased opportunities for those who qualify and sign up, implementing the will of the people and expanding Medicaid without delay,” Mitch Richter of the South Dakota Farmers Union told the committee on Monday. “This would ensure that all South Dakotans will have access to quality health care, improve the health of our communities and strengthen our economy.”

Other business groups have testified in favor of the resolution, citing workforce issues.

“When I talk to small businesses across the state and ask what their challenges are, almost every one of them says workforce,” said Jason Glodt, state director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses, in his testimony to a Senate committee. “They have a difficult time finding employees. So anything you can do to help workforce development is certainly welcome.”

The resolution passed the committee by a vote of 11-2 and goes to the full House of Representatives. The Senate approved the resolution last month. If it passes the House and is signed by Gov. Kristi Noem, the referendum will appear on the November ballot.

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