PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — State lawmakers heard requests from South Dakota’s health care systems Tuesday for more federal aid to cover their shortfalls from the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
Community hospitals need $30 million to offset additional costs expected through the end of 2020, a spokesman said. Community-service providers serving people with disabilities meanwhile lost $2.3 million since March, when COVID-19 began spreading into South Dakota. And long-term care centers reportedly were short, on average, about $25,000 apiece per month.
The Legislature’s Joint Health and Human Services Committee in turn made nearly $100 million of recommendations that would come from $1.25 billion in coronavirus relief funds that Congress gave South Dakota:
$35 million for predicted costs of long-term care from September through December;
$15 million for addressing isolation and family visitations at more than 100 long-term care facilities and 19 community-service providers;
$30 million for hospitals;
$15 million of housing assistance for renters and home owners;
$3 million for food distribution grants;
$250,000 for the Text for Hope program to serve students in middle and high schools; and
$1 million for translating COVID-19 information into other languages.
“Those were the bucket of topics we took up today,” Senator Deb Soholt, a Sioux Falls Republican, said.
Governor Kristi Noem on Monday called a special legislative session for Monday, October 5. Roughly $250 million remains beyond what the governor had previously outlined, including $100 million for healthcare organizations that she proposed Friday.
Congress gave states a December 30 deadline to commit their federal coronavirus relief funds.
The health committee Tuesday endorsed the governor’s $100 million for healthcare in addition to its recommendations.
The panel also asked appropriators to look at revisiting the 6.2% additional federal Medicaid assistance that was temporarily granted to South Dakota. “They’ve got that money on the table, so let’s use it,” Representative Rhonda Milstead, a Hartford Republican, said.
The committee also suggested steering a portion of any federal money that is available before the December deadline into equipping more law enforcement vehicles with laptops, as part of the virtual crisis-care mental health program that the state Unified Judicial System is leading with support from the Helmsley Foundation.