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Is South Dakota Facing A Nursing Home Funding Crisis?

Is South Dakota Facing A Nursing Home Funding Crisis?

An elderly woman worried about South Dakota nursing home funding

Two proposals in South Dakota aim to address a $42-million Medicaid funding shortfall that has closed nine nursing homes and could shut down more facilities in the coming months, according to Argus Leader.

Legislation introduced by Rep. Steven McCleerey (D-Sisseton) proposes to bridge the funding gap with an infusion of $8 million in state money, matched by $10 million in federal funds. Meanwhile, Gov. Kristi Noem proposed a total of $9.6 million in new funding in the 2019-20 state budget. Her plan would increase the Medicaid reimbursement rate by 5 percent over time, according to South Dakota News Watch.

South Dakota’s Medicaid reimbursement rate is the lowest in the country. The average cost per day for nursing home care in the state is $181, but Medicaid only reimburses $146 a day, as the Argus Leader reported. More than half of the states’ nursing home residents on are Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income Americans.

The governor’s proposal gradually lifts the Medicaid reimbursement rate up to nearly 100 percent of the actual cost of nursing home care, according to South Dakota News Watch. The plan also adds $5 million for a one-time innovation grant for nursing homes.

Both proposals require approval by the state legislature. The state’s Bureau of Finance and Management favors the governor’s proposal over McCleerey’s, according to the Argus Leader.

Mark Deak, director of the South Dakota Health Care Association, warned lawmakers to work quickly to avert a “statewide disaster.”

“We say we value our elderly,” he told the Argus Leader. “It really is time to put our resources behind that commitment.”