Medicaid expansion groups join for constitutional amendment

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A pair of South Dakota campaigns trying to expand access to Medicaid through the November ballot announced Monday they will join efforts to focus on passing an amendment to the state constitution.

The announcement from the two organizations — South Dakotans Decide Healthcare and Dakotans for Health — puts to rest a potential rivalry between the two campaigns. Both brought separate ballot proposals to require the state to make Medicaid government health insurance available to people who live below 133% of the federal poverty level, which is currently about $18,000 for an individual or $37,000 for a family of four.

South Dakota is one of 12 states that has not accepted federal incentives to expand Medicaid eligibility, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

South Dakotans Decide Healthcare, which is sponsoring Constitutional Amendment D and is backed by the state’s health care industry, said that Dakotans for Health would join its coalition rather than push its own proposal for a voter-initiated measure.

Rick Weiland, the co-founder of Dakotans for Health, said in a statement, “After conversations with South Dakotans Decide Healthcare members, we have agreed that the best path forward to accomplishing this goal is to join efforts behind one campaign.”