South Dakota is one of 12 states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), unduly risking our neighbors’ lives.
Health insurance is associated with improved access to and utilization of health care, better outcomes from treatment of chronic illness, improved self-reported health and lower mortality rates. In other words, it saves lives. It is profoundly pro-life.
Long before the ACA and Medicaid expansion under ACA, researchers showed that uninsured people “have poorer health and die prematurely.” One pre-ACA study said, “Arguing that health insurance coverage doesn’t improve health is simply inconsistent with the evidence.”
The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) has examined over 600 professional studies directly comparing states that expanded Medicaid under the ACA with non-expansion states. Well over half the studies found positive results in expansion states when compared to non-expansion states. The rest found “no difference or mixed findings.” None found higher mortality.
The latest KFF review, published this year, reports that “A growing body of research finds that Medicaid expansion has improved overall mortality rates as well as mortality rates associated with some specific health conditions [e.g., cancer, heart disease, liver disease]. These findings are consistent with earlier research …”
South Dakotans want Medicaid expansion: A scientific survey commissioned by American Cancer Society and American Heart Association found that 74% of South Dakotans support expanding Medicaid, including strong majorities (2 to 1 or higher) in all regions of South Dakota; people of all ages and educational levels; and members of both political parties (over 2 to 1 among Republicans)
This year, USD conducted a survey for South Dakota Public Broadcasting and the Chiesman Center: over 70% of respondents favored expansion of Medicaid and Medicare (answered “definitely yes” or “probably yes”). Nearly half of respondents who self-identified as conservative favored expansion.
Clearly Medicaid expansion makes sense for South Dakota. Our poorest citizens will benefit, especially low-income mothers and their children and low-income people with no children. It will save lives, provide a healthier workforce, stimulate the economy, and lower costs of other programs, all at little or no cost to the state. This is a strong pro-life policy that will save lives at all stages.
Please sign the petition to put expansion on the ballot.