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  • Writer's pictureMary Wakefield

Secretary Mary Wakefield explains rural healthcare, Medicaid expansion

Updated: May 24, 2021

"Healthcare and the Heartland" with Deputy Secretary Dr. Mary Wakefield


Deputy Health and Human Services Secretary Mary Wakefield is certainly one of us. She has the ‘right stuff’ and understands how the influence of ‘big money’ has destroyed people’s trust in government. She also understands that passing Medicaid expansion is a key opportunity to building back better in South Dakota -- a state with a rich history of progressive populism. Dakotans for Health was proud to join Secretary Wakefield last January for "Medicaid Expansion: Building Back Better" our third installment of Healthcare and the Heartland. You can watch Secretary Wakefield's remarks via the YouTube video above!

Medicaid Expansion: Changing Rural Healthcare

North Dakota expanded Medicaid in 2014 to the great benefit of ALL its citizens. Each and every year it brings hundreds of millions of dollars into North Dakota that otherwise wouldn't be there. These funds have saved many lives, kept people healthier, generated thousands of jobs, and provided critical resources to North Dakota's rural hospitals.

Before Medicaid Expansion, rural hospitals and clinics were often left with the bill when patients without coverage could not pay. Under Medicaid Expansion, there was a large drop in their uncompensated care costs. These uncompensated costs are left to the hospital if people cannot pay their bills. States that expanded Medicaid saw a 47 percent drop in uncompensated costs, while states that did not expand Medicaid only saw an 11 percent drop. In order for rural citizens to access quality health care, rural hospitals and clinics need to remain open. -Keith Johnson, (President, North Dakota Rural Health Association)

Medicaid expansion has ranged rural healthcare in North Dakota. Here are a few highlights:

  • Helping the Bottom Line: capturing over $906,000,000 at 23:1 ROI for North Dakota tax payers.

  • Helping Healthcare Providers: Medicaid expansion is critical to covering operating costs at Montana hospitals and clinics, the loss of which will results in staff cuts and closed facilities.

  • Helping Community Members: Medicaid expansion ensures 22,000 North Dakotas main health coverage, preserving healthcare access for our its most vulnerable citizens.

About Mary Wakefield

Dr. Mary Wakefield served as Chief of Staff to U.S. Senators Quentin Burdick (D-ND) and Kent Conrad (D-ND) before founding the Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota. In 2009, President Barack appointed her to the Department of Health and Human Services where she served as the Administrator of the Health Resources Administration before being appointed Deputy Health and Human Services Secretary in 2015. Secretary Wakefield is active on numerous boards and charities and recently served as a leader on the Biden Transition Team. She is a founding member of Dakotans for Health.

About Dakotans for Health

Dakotans for Health, an emerging group of public officials, caregivers, health care advocates, and concerned citizens supporting the expansion of Medicaid. We have released COMPREHENSIVE MATERIALS for our volunteers to start circulating a petition for a Constitutional Amendment to expand Medicaid. Get yours today!


Help Secure Ballot Access for Medicaid Expansion

Make a donation to help expand Medicaid in South Dakota. You can donate online via ActBlue HERE. You can Make a donation via check our money order HERE.

One neighbor. Helping another. That's something Tom Daschle understands.

You can view Leader Daschle's full episode of "Healthcare and the Heartland" HERE.

Get involved. Volunteer, start circulating a petition, and donate! Text "Medicaid" to (772) 577-2336

Dakotans For Health QR code for Volunteers.
Join our Grassroots Network

Circulate a Medicaid Expansion Petition (How to)

Want to circulate a petition? We have been on the streets since November of last year! The best way to do it is by scanning the code above or text "Medicaid" to (772) 577-2336. You can also find everything you need HERE.

Montana Governor Steve Bullock is certainly "one of us"

You can view Governor Bullock's full episode of "Healthcare and the Heartland" HERE


South Dakota is one of twelve states who has yet to expand Medicaid under the ACA
North Dakota expanded Medicaid in 2015. The program has brought hundreds of millions of additional dollars into the state:
Montana expanded Medicaid in 2015 as well. The program brings an additional $600 Million a year to the state:

Visual Learner Summary: according to the fiscal note released by the South Dakota Legislative Research Council last July, South Dakota, upon the expansion of Medicaid, will $15 back for every $1 it puts in. A 15:1 Return On Investment.



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