Palliative Care Bill a Win for South Dakota, Amendment F Looms as Possible Major Setback for Cancer Community

Statement from ACS CAN South Dakota Government Relations Director Ben Hanson on Opposition to Adding Work Requirements to Voter-Approved Medicaid Expansion

March 28, 2024

PIERRE, South Dakota – March 28, 2024 – When Gov. Kristi Noem signed Senate Bill 147 into law it improved access to palliative care and allowed the state’s health care providers to better serve individuals with serious illnesses.

Palliative care aims to provide better quality of life for cancer patients, those with other serious illnesses and their families by focusing on relieving the pain, stress and other symptoms associated with treatment. SB 147 adds the definition to statute, allowing for improved access to and reimbursement for palliative care services as well as providing for the distribution of education materials on palliative care. 

The bill was supported by the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations, Avera Health, Presentation Sisters of Aberdeen, the State Medical Association of South Dakota, Community Healthcare Association of the Dakotas, and Sanford Health and will play a significant role in improving the delivery of palliative care services.

SB 147 was the health care high point for the 2024 Legislature, which missed an opportunity to improve coverage for breast cancer diagnostic tests for South Dakotans by not advancing House Bill 1122 and passed the problematic Senate Joint Resolution 501, again asking voters to decide on work-reporting requirements they previously rejected in November of 2022. 

HB 1122 would have eliminated out-of-pocket costs for medically necessary diagnostic and supplemental breast imaging for those on state-regulated insurance plans. The law has been successfully passed in many states and would have helped eliminate financial barriers for South Dakotans who need follow-up testing after an abnormal mammogram or who need supplemental imaging tests. Unexpected and unaffordable costs may cause individuals to delay or forego additional imaging tests to rule out or confirm a breast cancer diagnosis. And delayed follow-up is associated with later stage disease at diagnosis.

SJR 501, passed with little in the way of discussion or specifics, will be placed on the November ballot as Amendment F. ACS CAN will be part of a broad coalition of health advocacy groups opposed as similar programs in other Medicaid Expansion states have accomplished little other than stripping health care from those most in need.

“We are going to get the facts out to voters about what happened in Pierre earlier this year and strongly encourage South Dakota voters to vote “no” on Amendment F, which is bad for so many, but especially those going through treatment or caring for somebody battling cancer,” said Ben Hanson, ACS CAN South Dakota Government Relations Director. “Our state has a well-documented workforce shortage and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation. Nearly 99 percent of South Dakotans work hard every day to provide for their families, many in more than one job. Making it harder for the poorest of that group to maintain health care coverage is not reflective of South Dakota values.”    


The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) advocates for evidence-based public policies to reduce the cancer burden for everyone. We engage our volunteers across the country to make their voices heard by policymakers at every level of government. We believe everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, detect, treat, and survive cancer. Since 2001, as the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN has successfully advocated for billions of dollars in cancer research funding, expanded access to quality affordable health care, and advanced proven tobacco control measures. We stand with our volunteers, working to make cancer a top priority for policymakers in cities, states and our nation’s capital. Join the fight by visiting 

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Shawn O'Neal
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