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SD lawmakers continue Medicaid talks

PIERRE (AP) — South Dakota legislative leaders from both parties said Friday they are discussing the possibility of expanding the Medicaid program to provide medical care for additional poor people, but much depends on how much flexibility federal officials would give the state in designing an expansion.

Rep. Bernie Hunhoff, leader of the House Democratic minority, said discussions have focused on expanding Medicaid coverage only to those most in need and providing that an expansion would be halted if the federal government fails to meet its promise to pay most of the cost.

“Change never comes easy,” said Hunhoff, of Yankton. “I’m still confident we can do something on Medicaid this session.”

Rep. Justin Cronin, of Gettysburg, assistant leader of the House Republican majority, said federal officials so far have been reluctant to give states flexibility in expanding Medicaid. He said he continues to get a lot of phone calls and emails encouraging Medicaid expansion.