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[MM Curator Summary]: SD work requirements proposal lose an early key battle in committee.
A proposal that would have paved the way to work requirements for expanded Medicaid recipients died in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee Friday.
While House Joint Resolution 5004 wouldn’t have made such work requirements law, it would have put the question to voters on a future ballot.
Voters approved Medicaid expansion in South Dakota last November.
Speaking during proponent testimony to committee, Rep. Tony Venhuizen said despite his initial opposition to Medicaid expansion, this bill is not designed to undo that vote.
“I can tell you that we are working very hard with the administration, that’s working very hard, to make sure Medicaid expansion is implemented faithfully,” Venhuizen said. “The issue of a work requirement as a possibility for Medicaid expansion was not really central to the issue of the expansion ballot last year, and I’m not so sure it’s been fully addressed by the voters.”
While framed as a solution to workforce issues, there was opposition to the proposal. Sister Kathleen Bierne, speaking on behalf of the Presentation Sisters in Aberdeen, questioned who this bill could affect.
“This resolution would result in nullifying the purpose of expanding Medicaid for some of the very people who are most in need,” Bierne said. “This resolution uses the term ‘able-bodied’ in its work requirement. ‘Able-bodied’ in its work requirement would have a lot of different meanings.”
That could include people like cancer patients, according to Matthew McLarty with the American Cancer Society.
“We see this resolution as potentially creating undue barriers for low-income South Dakotans who are cancer patients and those who will be diagnosed with cancer,” McLarty said. “Many cancer patients in active treatment are unable to work, or require significant work modifications, due to their treatment.”
The resolution was moved to the 41st legislative day on a 5-2 vote, killing it for this session.