Bill forbidding Medicaid expansion fails

Gov. Dennis Daugaard is opposed to expanding Medicaid, but he’s also against forbidding South Dakota from expanding Medicaid.

That’s the message that came out Monday, when Daugaard’s administration helped persuade the House State Affairs committee to reject a bill banning a state endorsement of Medicaid.

House Bill 1244, sponsored by Rep. Hal Wick, was a single sentence forbidding South Dakota from expanding Medicaid eligibility up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, as called for under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Wick and television producer Chuck Poppen said the state should pass that bill because expanding Medicaid would be costly to the state and policy.

But Kim Malsam-Rysdon, South Dakota’s secretary of the Department Social Services, said passing the law “only produces more red tape” given that Daugaard already would need legislative approval to expand Medicaid.

Daugaard has opposed expanding Medicaid this year, saying the state needs more information.

An array of organizations supporting Medicaid expansion also testified against the bill.

The committee voted 11-2 to kill HB 1244, with only Reps. Jon Hansen and Mike Verchio opposed.

"I think this is more of a go-on-record bill," said Rep. Kristin Conzet, R-Rapid City. "Right now, this bill is not needed."

After the vote, Wick said he had expected the bill’s defeat.

Another bill still alive, House Bill 1205, would expand Medicaid eligibility, though the Legislature can also expand Medicaid through the general appropriations bill.