Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) says no to expanding Medicaid in South Dakota now, but he’s not ruling it out forever. (Photo: EPA/RICK D’ELIA)

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) doesn’t favor expanding Medicaid coverage to include more low-income residents, but it appears he won’t rule out the possibility of expanding the program in the future.

Daugaard, who plans to address the state’s budget in a speech to the legislature Tuesday, is expected to tell legislators he will pursue coverage for tens of thousands of uninsured South Dakota residents through other means.

Expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act would cover anyone who makes less than 138 percent of the federal poverty limit. In South Dakota, that includes about 48,000 adults who don’t have health care coverage.

About 22,000 residents could take advantage of subsidies to buy health insurance through online exchanges, but the remaining 26,000 would be left without health care if South Dakota doesn’t act, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported.

State Sen. Deb Peters (R), the chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said she had the impression that Daugaard’s decision not to expand Medicaid this year didn’t mean he wouldn’t in the future.

“We don’t want to shut the door on the discussion,” Peters told the paper. “We’re going to continue to pursue other options.”

State Democrats view Daugaard’s apparent hedge as a silver lining on an otherwise dark cloud. State Sen. Billie Sutton told the Argus Leader that he was “kind of under the assumption it was a closed door, in [Daugaard’s] opinion. But that’s a good sign that at least he’s considering further discussions.”