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SD Medicaid Expansion Effort Gets New Endorsements


Wednesday, August 10, 2022   

More officials from South Dakota's health care community are speaking out in support of Medicaid expansion. Voters will decide this fall whether to expand Medicaid to close insurance gaps around the state.

This week, the South Dakota Emergency Medical Services Association and South Dakota Firefighters Association publicly endorsed the campaign.

Maynard Konechne, a member of the South Dakota EMS Association, said expansion would provide greater assurances first responders would be at least partially reimbursed for all their calls. He explained not having expenses covered in certain situations hurts an EMS operation's budget, including maintenance.

"You can't upgrade certain pieces of equipment, that you use daily, if they break down," Konechne pointed out. "I mean, you struggle to try and have a fundraiser and stuff."

He added volunteers for those fundraisers are getting older, and not enough people are filling their shoes.

It is estimated roughly 40,000 state residents would receive coverage if Medicaid expansion moves forward. Opponents, including Gov. Kristi Noem, cited cost concerns, but a nonpartisan state report said most expansion costs would be covered by the federal government.

Sandy Frentz, a retired public health manager for the City of Sioux Falls, applauded the new endorsements. She said the delivery of health care is a united front, and emphasized first responders are crucial in a rural state like South Dakota.

"If we lose our rural ambulance services, for example, then who takes care of that rural patient that needs to be transferred to a larger, tertiary health care system?" Frentz stressed.

Frentz, who also co-chairs the American Heart Association's South Dakota cabinet for Medicaid expansion, argued the plan can strengthen the state's economy by keeping more people in the workforce. This fall's Amendment D is supported by South Dakotans Decide Healthcare, a broad, nonpartisan coalition of organizations, including the Heart Association.

Disclosure: The American Heart Association of South Dakota contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, Poverty Issues, Senior Issues, and Smoking Prevention. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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