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Proposed Medicaid Cuts Affect Nursing Homes

January 26, 2011, 6:15 PM by Kelli Grant

Proposed Medicaid Cuts Affect Nursing Homes
SIOUX FALLS, SD - Proposed cuts to the state Medicaid program don't only have doctors and their patients talking.
People living in nursing homes are worried about their care as well.

Eighty-year-old Evelyn Olson and her 86-year-old husband Philip have lived at the Good Samaritan Village for nearly three-years.

It's a place they call home. But proposed cuts to the state Medicaid program are making the Olson’s question whether they'll be able to stay much longer.

“I said to our social worker, ‘Are we going to have to go sit out on the curb?’ Oh she said, ‘We wouldn't do that to you,’” Olson said.

It's a concern because she and her husband are on Medicaid, which pays for them to live here.

“Not only room and board, they pay for everything,” Olson said.

But according to the South Dakota Health Care Association, Medicaid payments to nursing homes are already under funded by the state to the tune of $20,000,000.

“So you add a 10 percent cut to that, not only are you going to see the possibility of jeopardizing care to our residents, but you're gonna see closings here in South Dakota,” Mark Deak, Executive Vice President of the South Dakota Health Care Association said.

Deak says 60 percent of nursing home residents in South Dakota are on Medicaid. That means if cuts are made, someone else will have to pick up the slack.

“One of the real unfortunate consequences of under funding Medicaid and then cutting it further is that these costs get passed on to those residents that are privately paid. Those residents that have scrimped and saved their whole life to be accountable for their own care needs and here there's no choice now then to have them pay for the needs of others, when really that's the state's obligation,” Deak said.

Olson says she doesn't want to be a burden and even offers a suggestion to lawmakers.

“Maybe find some of our needs that they're providing now that aren’t necessary,” Olson said.

Deak says even a 10 percent cut could force some facilities to close their doors, which Olson says just can't happen.

“We have four children and they all have kids and so I really have no clue as to what we would do in a case like that,” Olson said.

Deak says the cuts are unnecessary because there's more than $12,000,000 in earnings in the state's Health Care Trust Fund. South Dakotans approved starting the fund in 2001. We contacted the Governor's office to find out whether that money could help avoid cuts, but have not gotten an answer.

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