S.D. healthcare givers seek more COVID aid

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Money

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.

The Legislature’s Appropriations Committee next week will consider requests from five panels of lawmakers that recently held hearings.

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.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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