Lawmakers Will Send More Aid To South Dakota Nursing Homes

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Pierre

State lawmakers decided Wednesday that South Dakota’s nursing homes should be reimbursed another 10 percent for people whose care is funded by taxpayers.

The 2020 budget the Legislature approved for state government also calls for spending $100,000 to see how nursing homes might provide better care and stretch their money.

The study originally was supposed to come in 2021. The last one was in 2010.

“That was our number one priority,” Senator John Wiik, a Big Stone City Republican, said about legislators’ attitudes on the financial crisis facing many nursing homes throughout the state.

Many of the facilities are also competing for employees in many places.

The additional 10 percent reimbursement is the new base, Wiik said: “That will be ongoing.”

He and Representative Chris Karr, a Sioux Falls Republican, are co-chairmen of the Joint Committee on Appropriations that puts together state government’s budget each year.

The committee agreed to $5 million of innovation grants for nursing homes that new Governor Kristi Noem recommended in January.

Wiik said some nursing homes still follow a business model from the 1970s, when fewer retirees used facilities and often only went near the end of their lives. Now many people live in nursing care for years.

“I just think there’s a mentality change we need to learn how to live with,” Wiik said.

E-health services, where people receive outside-style care in a nursing home rather than being taken to an actual outside facility, could be a better way, he said.

The committee found enough money to carry through on Governor Noem’s recommendation that state government employees wouldn’t need to start paying a portion of their health-insurance premium.

The committee also gave 2.5 percent raises to state employees.

Wiik said those were important components because state workers hadn’t received raises in approximately half of the past dozen years.

K12 schools will also get 2.5 percent more in state aid, slightly more than the 2.3 percent rate of inflation.

Wiik said he enjoyed working with the new governor.

“It’s just completely different in leadership and management style,” he said.

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