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Study: SD Leaves Money Behind Without Medicaid Expansion

New research shows that states that have expanded Medicaid coverage are seeing financial and health benefits across their health care systems. (iStockphoto)
New research shows that states that have expanded Medicaid coverage are seeing financial and health benefits across their health care systems. (iStockphoto)
June 16, 2016

PIERRE, S.D. - Unlike South Dakota, states that have expanded Medicaid coverage are seeing benefits across their health care systems, according to a new report. After looking at safety net hospitals and clinics in seven states, researchers at the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families found that the Medicaid expansion states saved money. Carrie Clausen-Hansen, government relations chair with the South Dakota Nurses Association, said if the Rushmore State increased Medicaid coverage about 50,000 people would have better health care access.

"Nurses know very well the earlier you access health care, the better off your health outcomes are," she said. "And for us in a rural area it's critically important because access is a big issue."

South Dakota is one of 19 states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Some state Republicans, however, say, among other concerns, they want to see the federal government take on more Medicaid costs for Native Americans before they'll agree to a statewide expansion of the program.

Study co-author Jack Hoadley, research professor at Georgetown University, said health care institutions in expansion states are also saving money. He said this frees them up to provide more services, including dental and behavioral health check ups.

"Because they have more resources and they're not just stretched to just meet the day-to-day needs of their patients they have a little more flexibility to try to create relationships around the community with other providers," he said.

Currently, Governor Dennis Daugaard is considering calling a special legislative session this summer to vote on a plan to increase Medicaid locally.

The full report can be read online here.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - SD