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AARP AARP States South Dakota Advocacy

SD Legislature Week 4 - Nearing the Halfway Point

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As we enter February, the pace in Pierre is picking up!  The deadline for introducing bills was Wednesday and the legislature will consider nearly 500 bills, resolutions, and commemorations.

Medicaid Expansion
On Tuesday, AARP South Dakota testified in opposition of House Joint Resolution (HJR) 5004.  Unfortunately, the bill passed in the House State Affairs Committee, through the House of Representatives and now moves over to the Senate.

HJR 5004 will ask the voters in the 2024 general election to amend the South Dakota Constitution and authorize the state to impose work requirements on certain individuals who are eligible for Medicaid expansion.  AARP South Dakota believes Medicaid beneficiaries should not be subject to work requirements. 

As you will recall, South Dakota voters approved Medicaid expansion by passing Amendment D during the November 2022 general election with 56% of the vote – and there was no work requirement language.  Now, the Legislature wants to ask voters to amend the Medicaid expansion language, and we don’t think it’s right. 

The vast majority of adults enrolled in Medicaid are working, caregiving, in school, or suffering from illness or disability. Work requirements have caused high rates of coverage loss among enrollees that should actually remain eligible due to confusing requirements and difficulty submitting documentation. Finally, we feel that work requirements do not lead to increased employment. Instead, they lead to coverage loss and financial hardship. Individuals age 50-64 will particularly be impacted negatively by HJR 5004.

Scope of Practice for Optometrists
On Wednesday, AARP South Dakota testified in favor of Senate Bill (SB) 87. With AARP South Dakota’s support, SB 87 passed in the Senate Health and Human Services, on the Senate floor, and moves over to the House for consideration. Senate Bill 87 modernizes the scope of practice for optometrists to allow them to do in-office procedures consistent with their training and education.  The procedures allowable under this bill include limited laser procedures to treat glaucoma and cataracts and injections around the eye to allow the optometrist to remove skin tags or small lesions around the eye.

This bill does not allow optometrists to perform Lasik or cataract surgeries or inject directly into the eye.  Those procedures are appropriately done by an ophthalmologist in a surgery setting.  The bill does allow an optometrist to perform the necessary follow-up procedures for these surgeries in the patient’s local optometry office.

As the population of South Dakota ages, we expect to see more patients with glaucoma and cataracts.  These conditions are natural progressions of aging. Senate Bill 87 allows an appropriately trained workforce to be available to manage and treat these diseases in a setting that is optimal for the patient.

By allowing optometrists with the required training and education to perform these procedures in their offices, patients have greater access to the right level of care, by the right level of provider, in the right setting.  This provides optimal access to care for patients and allocates the resources of our healthcare system in the most productive way.

Stay tuned for more updates in the weeks ahead!