EDITORIAL: Lift moratorium on nursing homes

2012-02-22T07:30:00Z EDITORIAL: Lift moratorium on nursing homesJournal editorial board Rapid City Journal
February 22, 2012 7:30 am  • 

For more than 20 years, South Dakota has banned the construction of new nursing homes – except as a replacement for existing facilities — as a way to curb Medicaid spending and encourage the growth of less-expensive alternatives such as assisted living facilities.

That moratorium could be lifted if lawmakers pass Senate Bill 196, which authorizes an annual review of the need for nursing home facilities. If a shortage is found, the Health and Social Services departments would be authorized to invite existing facilities to apply to expand.

The bill is supported by Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s administration and passed the Senate on a 28-2 vote.

The moratorium sets a limit of 8,130 nursing home beds in the state, and currently about 6,154 of the licensed beds are occupied. About 57 percent of nursing home residents are supported by Medicaid, costing the state about $145 million annually.

SB 196 would require nursing home facilities that expand to maintain their current Medicaid participation rate.

A 2006 study found that the demand for nursing home care will increase in South Dakota as the state’s population ages. By 2025, about one-fourth of the state’s residents will be over 65.

The study by Abt Associates also found that nursing home beds were unevenly distributed across the state, and that the demand for nursing home services were greater in western South Dakota than east of the Missouri River.

Earlier in the session, lawmakers unanimously passed a bill to repeal the sunset provision on a 2010 law that allows construction of nursing home facilities on Native American reservations.

The moratorium on licensed nursing home facilities may have served its purpose of saving Medicaid funds, of which the state must pay a portion, but the number and location of nursing home beds should not be limited by a 24-year-old law.

If there is a need for more nursing home beds in the state or the beds are located away from our graying population centers, there needs to be a means to build nursing home facilities in locations where they are needed the most.

The Legislature should pass SB 196.



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(2) Comments

  1. Adam
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    Adam - February 22, 2012 10:58 am
    This state should be ashamed for the problem they have created by limiting beds. What is sad is you could spend your entire life working and paying taxes in this state, and soon find yourself with nowhere to go, and no one to take care of you. SD doesn't want more beds, because they don't want to have to care or pay for their elders who happen to be poor or lack the savings to pay for care, even though they spent their entire life paying into the system. I work in health care and see this on a daily basis. Some people have been hospitalized for a few months, 6 months, a year or more, and have nowhere to go, because no rest home will take them. I find this to be disgraceful, and our elected officials should be ashamed of themselves.
  2. 196thlightinfantry
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    196thlightinfantry - February 22, 2012 8:12 am
    Agreed, we do need the additional beds and more homes and improvements on existing. We had the great opportunity to do just that and have the long term funding for it as well with the Class Act. Senator Thune proudly killed that and gloated about doing so. The bill certainly had some issues, but it could have been worked on and tweaked in committee and we would have had something workable for the future.

    As more and more baby boomers have nursing home needs, this thing is gonna keep getting bigger. There must be a way to not only fund this with Medicaid dollars, but also with private pay as well. The Class Act or a hybrid of it, could do that and we should encourage our congress critters to get on the job and get working on it. No more dust tomfoolery and no more fake child labor outrage on the non-existent family farm workers, go to work on this so the costs can be shared and not be just a burden on the taxpayers.
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