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Survey Shows: Majority of South Dakotans Will Vote to Expand Medicaid In South Dakota

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Today, AARP South Dakota released a new survey of 1,000 registered voters age 50+ in the state which shows overwhelming bipartisan support for expanding Medicaid in South Dakota to those earning under $18,000 annually.

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The survey found that nearly 8 in 10 – including 73% of Republicans – say they support expanding Medicaid in South Dakota with 65% saying they are extremely or very likely to vote for the recently approved ballot measure. Over 40,000 hard-working South Dakotans, including parents, farmers, and small business employees, who are currently struggling to get access to the affordable health care they need would gain health coverage if voters decide to expand Medicaid next fall.  

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“South Dakota is one of only 12 states that has yet to expand Medicaid to those earning under $18,000 annually,” said Erik Gaikowski, AARP South Dakota State Director. “It’s critical for the health of our citizens and the health of our economy that we expand this benefit to South Dakotans with lower incomes.”

Many small businesses in South Dakota are looking to fill jobs that pay under $18,000 but are unable to offer affordable health coverage to these employees. Additionally, the pandemic highlighted the fact that many South Dakotans are one catastrophe away from losing their jobs and with it their access to affordable health insurance. Most South Dakotans (83%) consider it extremely of very important that these lower-income workers have access to affordable health coverage.

“Residents in rural communities already have to travel too far for healthcare,” Gaikowski noted. “Without Medicaid, many of our rural hospitals would be forced to close, leaving entire communities without access to the care they need.”

If South Dakota expands Medicaid now, the federal government will fund 90% of the entire program and bring an estimated $1.3 billion of South Dakota tax dollars back to the state over the next five years. Those are tax dollars South Dakotans have already paid but are currently being used to pay for healthcare in states that have expanded Medicaid, like California, New York and North Dakota.

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That fact may be on the minds of voters as AARP South Dakota’s survey found that 77% of respondents felt it very or extremely important that state lawmakers bring those tax dollars home to South Dakota. "States across the country from conservative to progressive and in between have realized the positive impact that healthcare coverage has on state finances and more importantly on the lives of hard-working state residents,” added Gaikowski. “It’s time to bring our tax dollars home for healthcare and jobs here.” 

AARP South Dakota is working with South Dakotans Decide Healthcare, one of the broadest coalitions ever to launch a ballot measure in the state, to pass Medicaid Expansion in 2022.

Learn more about the issue.
Learn more about AARP’s survey results.