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Sen. Johnson hosts Medicaid roundtable discussion

SIOUX FALLS — U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., Thursday hosted a roundtable discussion regarding the future of South Dakota's health care safety net, including the importance of expanding Medicaid and preserving the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

"Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program are an important backbone of our health care system and provide a critical safety net for some of our most vulnerable citizens," Johnson said. "While the Affordable Care Act improved access to health care, our state government's decision to not expand Medicaid has left up to 45,000 South Dakotans without access to affordable coverage. Expanding Medicaid is the right thing to do, and I will continue to urge our state to work with the federal government to find a workable path forward."

"Our health care safety net unfortunately faces yet another challenge as CHIP funding is set to expire in 2015. This would increase state health care costs and leave an estimated 4,000 South Dakota children at-risk of becoming uninsured. As our health care system transitions in the years ahead, it is important to recognize the essential role that Medicaid and CHIP play in ensuring that all South Dakotans have access to coverage and protect the future of these crucial programs."

The roundtable participants included: Jill Franken (Director of the Sioux Falls Department of Health/Falls Community Health Center), Dr. Jen Tinguely (Chief Medical Officer of the Falls Community Health Center), Linda Ross (CEO of the Community Healthcare Association of the Dakotas), Wendy Lewis (Director of Program Services, SD March of Dimes), Mark Johnston (Vice President of Public Policy at Sanford Health), Deb Fischer-Clemens (Vice President of Public Policy at Avera Health), Rebekah Cradduck (Vice President of the SD Association of Healthcare Organizations), and Karen Soli (SD State Representative, Sioux Falls, District No. 15).

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