South Dakota committee mulls senior living legislation

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South Dakota
South Dakota

The Regulation of Nursing and Assisted Living Beds Interim Committee of the South Dakota legislature will reconvene Aug. 23 as it considers ways to enable people to age in place while ensuring that demand for assisted living and skilled nursing beds is met.

The committee members — state senators and representatives — may tour assisted living and skilled nursing facilities this summer as they consider proposing legislation in the next session.

A presentation at the committee's July 12 meeting noted that policies undertaken by the state, including a moratorium on new nursing home beds, have resulted in an accelerated decrease in nursing home utilization, whereas assisted living usage has increased. No concurrent increases in skilled Medicare home health or home- and community-based services have occurred, according to the report.

“The status of the moratorium is a very important issue for our SDHCA members,” said South Dakota Health Care Association Executive Director Mark B. Deak. “This hearing was a great opportunity to further the conversation with lawmakers about why the moratorium was put in place and address other key factors, such as inadequate reimbursement rates that significantly impact providers' ability to staff centers.”

Marilyn Kinsman, division director of the state Office of Adult Services and Aging, told those at the meeting that an increasing number of adults seek to live at home as long as possible and that meeting this desire is cost-effective, according to a report by SDPB Radio.

At the same time, state Department of Health Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon said, continuing care retirement / life plan communities can ensure that citizens, especially those in larger communities, have various options from which to choose, the radio station reported. Nursing home beds may need to be allocated differently in the future to ensure that residents of tribal communities and rural areas can access them, she added, according to the media outlet.

Steve Vande Kop, chairman of the board of directors for the Assisted Living Association of South Dakota, told McKnight's Senior Living that the committee is seeking to reduce government costs for long-term care as the state prepares to meet the needs of the large baby boomer generation. Home healthcare, although less expensive than assisted living or skilled nursing, won't provide all of the answers, he added.

“I know some people who are involved and have their own private home healthcare businesses, and that's not an easy solution either,” he said. “Medication administration is one of the main issues when it comes to caring for elderly people, and home healthcare really faces a lot of challenges when it comes to providing that.”

The ALASD chairman said that his organization will assist the committee in its deliberations as asked.

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