South Dakota Republicans are trying to change the rules to obstruct the state’s voters from compelling them to accept the Medicaid expansion:
When South Dakota organizers began gathering signatures to put Medicaid expansion on the ballot in 2022, their goal seemed very achievable—they needed to win just 50 percent of the vote in the next general election. Since 2018, ballot measures to expand Medicaid met that threshold in conservative Idaho, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Utah—victories that qualified hundreds of thousands of people for public health insurance.
Healthcare advocates pursued a ballot initiative to get around their Republican-run legislature, which has refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act for the past decade. But state Republicans have responded by rushing to change the election’s rules.
The legislature placed a constitutional amendment on the state’s June 7 primary ballot that would make it far harder for future ballot initiatives to succeed, starting with the Medicaid measure that is scheduled on Nov. 8.
Amendment C, if adopted next week by the smaller pool of voters who decide primaries, would set a higher threshold for future ballot measures that involve spending more than $10 million over a period of five years—something that expanding Medicaid would inevitably do. Such ballot measures would need to gain the approval of 60 percent of voters, up from 50 percent.
The GOP’s bid to thwart the Medicaid initiative in South Dakota adds to a series of moves by the party to weaken direct democracy. In many states that Republicans dominate, progressive organizers have successfully appealed to voters with measures like Medicaid expansion that conservative legislatures have blocked, triggering intense backlash by Republican politicians against procedures of direct democracy that they are failing to control. In Idaho and Utah, the GOP’s new restrictions on ballot initiatives also closely followed Medicaid referendums.
You know, I’m beginning to think that every-pregnancy-might-be-a-felony laws are not in fact going to be accompanied by better maternal healthcare in Republican controlled states. Come to think of it, I don’t think we’re going to get better mental health care as a replacement for gun control either.