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SD governor against quick Medicaid expansion

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 10, 2013 at 6:28 pm •  Published: January 10, 2013

House Democratic Leader Bernie Hunhoff of Yankton, who favors expanding Medicaid, said lawmakers routinely have to make decisions amid uncertainty.

"If the only concern is we're uncertain about the future, we should all just stay in bed," Hunhoff said after the meeting.

Other lawmakers asked state officials for more detailed information on the Medicaid program and the possible expansion.

State Social Services Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon said the state's share of Medicaid is now about $294 million a year, or nearly 27 percent of total state spending from general tax revenue. One-third of all South Dakota children younger than 19 are covered by Medicaid or related programs, and half the children born in the state are on Medicaid or related programs during their first year of life, she said.

Rep. Jim Bolin, R-Canton, asked whether the governor has the final say on the issue. Bowman said the Legislature could decide to expand Medicaid by amending the state budget.

Several lawmakers said they favor expanding Medicaid because uninsured people now delay getting medical care until they are very sick and go to hospital emergency rooms. Since they cannot afford expensive emergency care, hospitals and clinics have to charge insured patients more to offset losses in charity care.

"Their health care costs will be paid somewhere, and it will be paid out of South Dakotans' pockets," said Sen. Stan Adelstein, R-Rapid City.