South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) opposes providing health benefits to more than 40,000 “able-bodied” poor people by expanding the state’s Medicaid program under President Barack Obama’s health care reform law, he told legislators Tuesday.
Obama’s health care law seeks to provide health care coverage to as many as 17 million uninsured people who earn up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $14,856 for a single person this year, by 2022. But when the Supreme Court upheld the law in June, it allowed states to opt out of expanding Medicaid. Including South Dakota, nine states with Republican governors have announced they wouldn’t offer health benefits to poor people who would qualify.
Daugaard objected to adding healthy, poor adults to Medicaid in an address to the state legislature Tuesday. “I want to stress that: these are able-bodied adults. They’re not disabled; we already cover the disabled. They’re not children; we already cover children. These are adults — all of them,” said Daugaard, Yankton, S.D.-based WNAX radio reported.
Expanding Medicaid would provide 44,000 South Dakotans with health coverageunder the new rules between 2014 and 2022, according to a recent study issued by the Urban Institute and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. In addition, 6,000 state residents who already qualify but aren’t enrolled will sign up for benefits during the nationwide rollout of Obamacare that begins next October.
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