SD first responders endorse Medicaid expansion efforts

SIOUX FALLS, S.D., August 9, 2022 – South Dakota’s first responders are joining the campaign to expand Medicaid in the state with their support of Constitutional Amendment D.

The South Dakota EMS Association and the South Dakota Firefighters Association, which represent first responders in South Dakota, have endorsed Medicaid expansion efforts in the state to strengthen rural healthcare and rural economies.

“South Dakotans value hard work and helping our neighbors,” said Maynard Konechne, political committee chair for the South Dakota EMS Association. “But right now, there are hardworking people across our communities who are slipping through the cracks. South Dakotans who can’t access health care through their jobs often find themselves facing a choice between medical care and putting food on the table.”

According to the American Heart Association, rural hospitals and first responders work hard to keep their doors open and communities struggle to recruit and keep good healthcare providers, making it harder for residents to access the care they need. Rural areas need Medicaid expansion to make it more likely that people will have a hospital and health care providers in their community that they can trust. It also means rural residents will have more local options for care, which reduces the need to drive long distances to reach facilities and see providers and specialists in bigger cities.

“Having a strong health care system for rural South Dakotans is important, because where you live shouldn’t determine whether you survive a medical emergency,” said Charlie Kludt, president of the South Dakota Firefighters Association. “Ensuring strong emergency medical services for our communities through Medicaid expansion will help fellow service agencies, including rural fire departments, to perform continued care for rural South Dakotans.

Voters will have the opportunity to support Medicaid expansion on the ballot this November with a “yes” vote on Constitutional Amendment D. Amendment D will require the State of South Dakota to provide Medicaid benefits to any person over 18 and under 65 who earns less than $18,000 a year or a family of four earning less than $37,000 per year. Federal funding would pay for 90 percent of the expansion costs, with the state being responsible for the remaining 10 percent. According to the South Dakota Legislative Research Council, expanding Medicaid means South Dakota will save more than $63 million in general funds in the first two years alone, as a result of additional program funding through ARPA. Medicaid expansion would return more than $1.3 billion tax dollars to South Dakota from Washington in the first five years.

“Medicaid expansion will make our families healthier and our economy stronger,” said Sandy Frentz, retired public health manager for the City of Sioux Falls and volunteer co-chair of the American Heart Association’s Cabinet for Medicaid Expansion. “It delivers affordable health care for those working hard at jobs that don’t offer insurance and brings our tax dollars home to create jobs, strengthen rural hospitals and first responders and grow our economy.”

Amendment D is supported by South Dakotans Decide Healthcare, a broad, non-partisan coalition of organizations dedicated to ensuring all South Dakotans have access to affordable, quality health care coverage. The American Heart Association is a member of the coalition and supports Medicaid expansion for South Dakotans.

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About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.orgFacebookTwitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

About South Dakotans Decide Healthcare
South Dakotans Decide Healthcare is a broad non-partisan coalition of organizations dedicated to ensuring all South Dakotans have access to affordable, quality health care coverage. We represent organizations from health systems, including Avera, Monument, and Sanford, to advocacy organizations, including AARP-SD, American Cancer Society, Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, and the Community HealthCare Association of the Dakotas, South Dakota Education Association, South Dakota Farmers Union, and many other organizations.


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