South Dakota Gov. Daugaard Abandons Medicaid Expansion Efforts

Published December 3, 2016

A conversation with Vice President-elect Mike Pence prompted South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) to abandon a Medicaid expansion plan he was considering proposing to state lawmakers during their 2017 session.

“Based on that discussion, I will not recommend that South Dakota pursue Medicaid expansion in 2017,” Daugaard said after meeting with Pence at a Republican Governors Association conference in Orlando on November 14, the Argus Leader reported.

Daugaard had previously proposed expanding Medicaid to cover approximately 50,000 residents earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, newly eligible under the Affordable Care Act, in exchange for the federal government absorbing some of the state’s costs of providing health care to Native Americans in South Dakota, the Leader reported on November 15, 2016.

“Completely repeal Obamacare” and “Block-grant Medicaid to states” were two of seven points in a paper titled “Healthcare Reform” released by President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign in March 2016. Similar reform proposals appear in House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) health care plan, contained in his “Better Way” proposal, and in plans offered by other Republicans in Congress.

Opportunity for Reform

Ron Williamson, board president at the Great Plains Public Policy Institute, says Daugaard’s decision to halt Medicaid expansion efforts creates an opportunity for Medicaid reform.

“I would commend Gov. Daugaard on his meeting with Vice President-elect Pence and deciding not to recommend that South Dakota expand Medicaid,” Williamson said. “Also, with the opportunity for reforming Medicaid, the governor intends to work with the Trump administration, especially regarding health care access provided by Indian Health Service to Native Americans.”

Staff Report