Legislators want telehealth for all South Dakotans

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — State lawmakers and others studying telehealth and telemedicine plan a final meeting November 6 on the next steps toward providing virtual care throughout South Dakota.

Senator Deb Soholt, a Sioux Falls Republican, chairs the committee that met Wednesday at the state Capitol.

She said Governor Kristi Noem and state Supreme Court Chief Justice David Gilbertson also are very interested in virtual mental-health care.

“That’s about all I can say because nothing is in cement,” Soholt told the group.

The panel is working on recommendations for the 2020 session of the Legislature that opens January 14. She expects the panel’s recommendations will be the launching point.

“It’s entirely do-able and possible,” Soholt said. “The work of this interim will make a big difference in how this takes shape.” 

The committee met one day after Avera Health in Sioux Falls announced plans to develop and launch the nation’s first program for telehealth curriculum, using a $4.3 million grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

“Now it’s being developed, and it’s being funded from philanthropy rather than state dollars,” she said. “That’s exciting and extremely generous.” 

The Legislature’s Executive Board appointed five study committees to work on mental-health issues. Soholt said she expects they’ll produce five to seven pieces of legislation for the 2020 session.

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