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2nd Medicaid expansion group submits petition for ballot

May 3, 2022 GMT

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A second group attempting to expand Medicaid eligibility in South Dakota submitted petition signatures to the secretary of state Tuesday in a bid to place a proposed law on the November ballot and create a rival to a proposed constitutional amendment.

Dakotans for Health said it had submitted over 23,000 signatures to ask voters to approve a law requiring Medicaid health insurance to be made available to people who live below 133% of the federal poverty level, which is currently about $18,000 for an individual or $37,000 for a family of four.

State law requires initiated measures to submit nearly 17,000 signatures from South Dakota registered voters, and the secretary of state’s office will take a random sample of the petition signatures to evaluate whether the campaign has collected enough valid signatures.

However, a proposed constitutional amendment to expand Medicaid eligibility has already been certified for the November ballot. It is being pushed by South Dakotans Decide Healthcare, which is backed by of many of the state’s largest health care groups.

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South Dakotans Decide Healthcare campaign manager Zach Marcus said in a statement that “a constitutional amendment is the best way to ensure that South Dakota voters receive what they vote for.”

Dakotans for Health had last year attempted to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, but failed to get enough valid signatures. The group’s co-founder Adam Weiland changed tack Tuesday and argued that voters would be more likely to support an initiated law rather than a constitutional amendment.

“We think it is important for the voters of South Dakota to have another choice to expand Medicaid on the November ballot,” he said in a statement.