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  • Writer's pictureRemi Bald Eagle

Tribal chairmen join grassroots Medicaid expansion campaign

Updated: Apr 19, 2021

And, in Indian Country, support grows to expand Medicaid insurance

Indian Country, South Dakota

Dakotans For Health Tribal Spokesman Remi Beautiful Bald Eagle announced the first round in a series of endorsements from the state’s American Indian tribes today. Bald Eagle joined the organization last month setting an aggressive goal to rally Indian Country around a cause that would extend health insurance to 42,000 working class South Dakotans who need it.

“For years, leaders have hoped to expand healthcare options in South Dakota, yet it does not happen. Dakotans for Health is honored to be joined by our tribal leaders and native people across the state on this important issue. Now is the time, and we will see this through.” -Remi Beautiful Bald Eagle
"The time is now. We will get this done."

Beautiful Bald Eagle's efforts have received widespread praise including from Rosebud Sioux Nation President, Rodney Bordeaux who heralded the former combat engineer as a 'bridge builder,' citing the grassroots group's 'reliability' and deep commitment to Indian Country:

“"I would like to thank Dakotans for Health for taking on this important effort to expand Medicaid. We know they can be relied on to be a strong voice for Indian Country"
"A strong voice for Indian Country"
"We are excited to be part of this team and look forward to working with Remi, Rick, Pam, Adam and the entire Dakotans for Health network on this important task." continued Bordeaux.

Other leaders echoed Bordeaux sentiment including Yankton Sioux Tribal Chairman Robert Flying Hawk who, along with Bordeaux, was an early supporter of the effort:

Dakotans for Health values America’s diverse middle class, and the union workers who built and preserve it. SMART and the Eastern South Dakota Building Trades are proud support their effort to extend health insurance to 42,000 people who need it. It is what Build Back Better is all about.-mark rogers
"People's lives literally depend on it"

Lower Brule Sioux Tribal President Clyde Estes lauded Flying Hawk's sentiment citing the critical importance of health insurance and the tribes familiarity with the Bald Eagle and the organizers at Dakotans for Health:

The folks involved at Dakotans for Health have lived in or worked with Indian Country their entire lives. We know they can be trusted to do what is right and are proud to support their important campaign to expand Medicaid" -Chairman Clyde Estes
"They can be trusted to do what is right"

Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Chairman Peter Lengkeek who , like Bald Eagle, is a former combat veteran, agreed with Estes:

Dakotans for Health has a deep commitment to the earth and to the well being of Indian Country. I am grateful for their efforts to improve our healthcare systems."-Chairman Peter Lengkeek
"A deep commitment"

Dakotans for Health is circulating an initiated constitutional amendment to expand Medicaid that would provide Medicaid health insurance to South Dakotans who make less than $17,000 a year. The groups is seeking to collect 65,000 signature to qualify their measure.

“We are humbled and honored to have the support of the tribal chairman. Working class people deserve access to quality healthcare and affordable prescription drugs. Let's roll.” Dakotans for Health Co-Founder, Rick Weiland said.

The endorsements are a "first wave" and come on the heels of several others the grassroots groups has received from the states spiritual institutions, rural organizing networks, as well as the AFL-CIO. The non-partisan South Dakota Legislative Research Council has estimated that 42,500 people would be eligible for Medicaid health insurance if the ballot measure is successful. South Dakota is one of 12 states that has refused to participate in the program.

Update: the Dakota Free Press recently wrote a piece on Remi Bald Eagle and the Dakotans for Health movement. You can read it HERE.


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!

Urgent! Help us refer HJR 5003. A plot by the South Dakota legislature to kill Medicaid expansion!

House Joint Resolution 5003 is aimed to kill Medicaid expansion

Dakotans for Health submitted a HJR 5003 referral petition to the state on March 11th which was rejected by the Secretary of State and is challenging that decision in the South Dakota Supreme Court. You can learn more about this and get involved HERE.


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.

Obama Campaign Manager Steve Hildebrand on the importance of Grassroots Organizing and Dakotans for Health's campaign to expand Medicaid:

You can watch the full episode with Steve HERE

Message from Montana Governor Steve Bullock to Dakotans for Health petition circulators:

You can watch the full episode with Governor Bullock HERE

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

You can watch the full episode with Senator Daschle HERE

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

Dakotans for Health volunteer QR code.
Join our Grassroots Network (open your camera app and point)

Circulate a Medicaid Expansion Petition (How to)

Want to circulate a petition? We have been on the streets since November of last year! You can find everything you need HERE.

HHS Deputy Secretary Mary Wakefield supports Dakotans for Health and you can too!

You can watch the full episode with Secretary Wakefield HERE

Earl Pomeroy knows a thing or two because he's seen a thing or two.

You can watch the full episode with Congressman Pomeroy HERE

KELO: League of Women Voters Medicaid Expansion Petition Signing Event With Dakotans For Health

You can view the full KELO story 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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