South Dakota Legislative Briefing on Medicaid Expansion
The decision to expand Medicaid eligibility is the most consequential Medicaid decision since 1965, when states could first opt into the federal-state partnership program, said Vernon Smith, a health economist and former Michigan Medicaid director.
Smith was in South Dakota last week, brought there by Senate and House leaders of both parties and CSG Midwest for a special briefing attended by more than 100 participants.
Smith said each state’s decision will directly affect the health of many of its residents with ripple effects throughout the health care system, the state budget, the economy, employers and others paying for health insurance.
“Each state has a unique set of budget and health care interests to be weighed by state policymakers, but this ultimately is a political decision for the governor and the legislature,” he said.
Mike McCabe, executive director of The Council of State Governments Midwest, was visiting state legislators in the South Dakota Capitol when the plan to provide legislators more information about the potential costs and benefits of expanding Medicaid was hatched. McCabe said the program was part of an in-state training initiative launched by CSG’s Midwestern Legislative Conference in December.
“The need identified in South Dakota and CSG’s plans and resources aligned perfectly,” he said.
South Dakota Sen. Jean Hunhoff, chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and outgoing co-chair of the CSG Midwest Health and Human Services Committee, said the presentation was helpful.
“So much information is coming out on the expansion from different sources that [and] the presentation provided a summation of what other states are doing and why they have selected their course of action,” she said. “It is important to understand the implications of the expansion, so that facts drive the discussion rather than emotions.”
Click here for slides from Vernon Smith's presentation.