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Poll: SD Voters Want Expanded Health Care Options

A recent poll shows growing bipartisan support for Medicaid expansion among South Dakota voters. (iStockphoto)
A recent poll shows growing bipartisan support for Medicaid expansion among South Dakota voters. (iStockphoto)
February 15, 2016

PIERRE, S.D. – A growing number of voters in South Dakota say they want to expand Medicaid coverage through federal funding.

A recent poll commissioned by the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network shows 74 percent of voters support Gov. Dennis Daugaard's expansion plans. That's up from 62 percent about three years ago.

David Benson, South Dakota government relations director for the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network, says this is sending a message to lawmakers who could vote on the expansion within the next few weeks.

"We're very optimistic,” Benson states. “I feel the new plan that is being discussed by the governor provides an incredible opportunity for providing thousands of currently uninsured residents with life-saving health care coverage."

The survey also shows bipartisan support for Medicaid expansion in the state. Sixty-one percent of South Dakota Republicans favor the plan alongside 98 percent of Democrats.

While Democratic support has largely stayed the same in South Dakota, the poll also shows Republican support almost doubled in three years.

Critics of the proposal, however, argue that it could increase the federal deficit, because the Medicaid expansion will fully rely on federal dollars.

Benson argues that South Dakota taxpayers already are footing some of the bill for federal Medicaid programs in other states.

"We need to return those tax dollars back to South Dakota, have an impact on those 50,000 South Dakotans by having quality access, affordable health-care coverage," he stresses.

After rejecting the idea in recent years, South Dakota is joining two other primarily conservative states – Virginia and Wyoming – with proposals to expand Medicaid.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - SD