Nurse or doctor give man support during recovery or loss. Caregiver holding hand of her sad senior patient and showing kindness while doing a checkup at a retirement, old age home or hospital
(Credit: Wong Yu Liang / Getty Images)

A South Dakota legislative committee is studying sustainable long-term care models this summer to offer solutions for affordable care.

The Study Committee on Sustainable Models for Long Term Care will examine the state’s current long-term care situation — including demographics, funding, staffing, reimbursement rates and geography — and evaluate potential solutions for affordable care. Those solutions could include an emphasis on long-term care in the home, regionalization of long-term care facilities or affordable care for long-term care residents. 

The committee is expected to propose several solutions for consideration during the legislature’s 2024 session.

The South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations solicited feedback and direction from its post-acute care council — including representatives of assisted living, nursing home, home health and hospice providers — to prepare for the summer study.

“Workforce and preservation of our rural communities is the No. 1 concern and priority for our members, SDAHO Chief Operating Officer Tammy Hatting told McKnight’s Senior Living. “There is a wide spectrum of patients and residents with diverse needs on Medicaid, so it will be important to include education for our legislators on the levels of care and federal regulatory framework in which we operate.”

Hatting added that SDAHO is pleased that the committee is focused on improving care for older adults and that the association will be an active partner with the state in the study.

South Dakota Health Care Association Executive Director Mark B. Deak told McKnight’s Senior Living that the study committee is keeping the spotlight on long-term care, and the association said its members will work to help legislators identify challenges and ways forward in areas including reimbursement, workofrc,e regulatory hurdles, infrastructure or new innovations.

“We are coming out of a very difficult period for long-term care providers, and it makes sense that we take the time to evaluate where we’ve been and where we hope to go,” Deak said.

In South Dakota, 15 nursing homes have closed in the past five years, with seven closing last year alone, according to data from SDAHO.

The state enacted a nursing facility moratorium in 1988 — extended indefinitely in 2005 — to cap the number of nursing facility beds and to help control increasing costs of long-term healthcare. The moratorium also aimed to spur further growth of home- and community-based services, including assisted living, residential living centers and home care.

Over time, the state has commissioned several studies, task forces and committees to evaluate long-term care in South Dakota. Those efforts led to Dakota at Home, a single point of entry system meant to ease access to information, assessment and referral to appropriate service providers.

Previous studies also addressed targeting assisted living capacity toward growing regions, expanding home health and HCBS, Medicaid eligibility for long-term care facilities and geriatric mental health services.

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