Access to Medicaid Expansion Key to South Dakota’s Fight Against Cancer

Statement from American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Government Relations Director Ben Hanson

April 15, 2024

PIERRE, S.D. –– To mark Medicaid Awareness Month, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is shining a bright light on what Medicaid expansion means for South Dakota families in the fight against cancer and how important it is to protect access to this lifesaving coverage by encouraging South Dakotans to vote no on Amendment F in November. The work-reporting requirements proposed in Amendment F will only block hard-working South Dakotans from accessing the health care needed to live happy, healthy lives. 

“South Dakotans were clear in what they wanted when they approved Medicaid expansion in 2022,” ACS CAN South Dakota Government Relations Director Ben Hanson said. “They did not vote to add massive amounts of government paperwork to the lives of their friends, family and  small business owners as a condition to see their doctors. We are confident they will reaffirm their will and vote no on Amendment F in November.”

Simply having coverage is one of the largest determining factors for survivorship against cancer. Research continues to show that cancer patients living in states with lower income Medicaid eligibility limits see significantly worse survival rates for most cancer in comparison to states with higher limits. 

More than 40,000 South Dakota residents gained access to health care after voters overwhelmingly mandated the expansion of Medicaid, via Amendment D, in 2022. Those without coverage face one of the biggest barriers to receiving their critical screenings: cost. Many individuals who fall within “the coverage gap” -- making too much to qualify for Medicaid and too little to afford private insurance -- are more likely to detect cancer at a later stage when survivorship is less likely and treatment is more expensive, and sometimes forced to forgo treatment altogether. 

Cancer continues to be one of the costliest diseases to treat as evidenced by surveys that have found that a majority of cancer patients and survivors have accrued medical debt. This year alone, nearly 5,680 South Dakotans will be diagnosed with cancer – too many of whom will be uninsured when they receive the devastating news.

Media Contacts

Shawn O'Neal
Senior Regional Media Advocacy Manager