- Associated Press - Thursday, March 16, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - A health care organization trade group said Thursday that congressional Republicans’ health plan could cost thousands in South Dakota their insurance and leave the state without hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding each year.

Scott A. Duke, president and CEO of the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations, said in a statement that the organization anticipates roughly 25,000 people in South Dakota would likely lose health insurance by 2019 under the plan based on a preliminary analysis of the bill.

Duke also said South Dakota could see annual reductions of $300 million in federal funding for the Medicaid health coverage program for low-income and disabled people.

The Congressional Budget Office said this week that the Republican legislation would reduce the ranks of the insured by 24 million in a decade, largely by cutting Medicaid recipients and people buying individual policies. South Dakota isn’t one of the 31 states that expanded their Medicaid programs under former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

The CBO estimates don’t look good in terms of impact on the uninsured in South Dakota or the country, said Shelly Ten Napel, CEO of Community HealthCare Association of the Dakotas.

“The overall impacts are not good. They erase the coverage gains we’ve seen over the years the Affordable Care Act has been enacted,” she said.

In a letter to South Dakota U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem on Wednesday, Duke said that the group believes “thousands of South Dakotans could lose their coverage because of an inability to pay for insurance due to significantly reduced federal subsidies.”

A South Dakota labor department spokeswoman said in an email that the state Division of Insurance isn’t planning in the near future a specific cost analysis of the proposal’s impacts in South Dakota.

Kim Malsam-Rysdon, a senior adviser to Gov. Dennis Daugaard, has said that state officials are analyzing the bill’s potential impacts to Medicaid. Daugaard has said he doesn’t like that the plan would require South Dakota to take on more financial risk under proposed funding changes for Medicaid.

But the Republican governor said that it’s important to get control of the federal deficit, which he said would be difficult without overhauling entitlements including Medicaid. The CBO says the legislation would reduce budget deficits by $337 billion over a decade.

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