The 93rd session of the South Dakota legislature has reached its midway point and is busy with committee meetings and floor sessions to tackle a 17-year high of 534 legislative proposals. The South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations (SDAHO) is closely monitoring 46 proposals that directly impact the health care field. Of these, 18 have been passed, were defeated and/or signed by the governor.

A few highlights from this week include committee level approval of a proposal to increase the age for purchasing tobacco products from 18 to 21 years. HB 1250 passed 8-4 out of the House Health and Human Services Committee. The proposal will go before the full House after it receives a fiscal note to determine the financial impact on the state’s revenues/budget. SDAHO is supporting this legislation (see Bill Monitor).

Two telemedicine bills championed by the South Dakota State Medical Association, SB 122 and SB 123, were scheduled to be considered in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, however the bills were tabled in committee without a hearing. SDAHO was monitoring these proposals as the use of and reimbursement for telemedicine continues to play an increasing role in providing South Dakotans access to care, particularly in rural areas. It is not clear whether these proposals will be further revised before another legislative committee hearing is scheduled.

In addition, in an effort to address opioid abuse, SB 176 proposes that new prescriptions be limited to seven days. SDAHO opposed the bill and provided testimony as SB 176 would significantly interfere with the provider-patient relationship. After a lengthy debate the bill was defeated and moved to the 41st day.

Other important health care issues being tracked include proposals requiring the legislature to approve any state Medicaid plan changes/waivers (SB 190) and changes to how the shared savings from implementation of the 100 percent FMAP initiative are distributed (HB 1266).

While these policy bills are very important, the ongoing deliberation over the state’s budget are also key to SDAHO members. The Joint Committee on Appropriations (JCA) heard testimony from the Department of Social Services (DSS) related to their annual budget early this week. The agency is requesting $17 million in federal funds for the Eligibility and Enrollment Modernization Project, which is an information system to determine eligibility for Medicaid. The agency fielded questions from legislators on the shared savings program to providers, medical health homes and the victim services program.

The state’s revenue estimate presentations by the Bureau of Finance and Management (BFM) and the Legislative Research Council (LRC) economists are expected to be presented to the JCA on Feb. 12.