As members of the Interim Study Committee on Sustainable Models for Long Term Care continue to look at the landscape of long-term care in our state, it has gained media attention at both the national and state level. On May 23, 2023 the chair of the committee, State Senator Jean Hunhoff appeared on SDPB’s In the Moment, radio program to discuss the summer study after the first meeting.
On June 12 members of the summer study along with stakeholders that included SDAHO, returned to the state capital for the second meeting. SDAHO’s President/ CEO, Tim Rave joined the In the Moment program live on Tuesday June 13th to provide some insight on the topic. Jackie Hendry, host of the program, began the conversation asking Rave to provide some history of long-term care in our state, specifically on the moratorium of nursing home beds in South Dakota. Rave said, “The concern at that time was there was a significant rise in the number of residents taking up Medicaid funded beds, that would be dollars paid for by the state through the Medicaid Program. It was becoming an insurmountable amount of money to cover, so they put a cap or a moratorium on those beds. Concurrently that was about the time assisted living and some of the other home health options were available and that took some pressure off. There was then a bridge for folks to go into assisted living, they could stay there a little bit longer and receive a little bit of help and towards the end of their lives, they could transition into a long-term care facility. So, we’ve stayed under the cap, today we were 1,300 to 1,400 beds under the cap today.”
When asked about the struggles the long-term care industry is facing today, Rave focused on workforce and the impact that has created, resulting in some nursing homes to close. Since Rave started with SDAHO in 2018, he has seen 15 nursing homes close. “That really is the geniuses of doing this summer study, to see what we can do, if anything. In the 21 years I have been around this process, in or out of the legislature, I have seen four long-term studies, but I think this has a different tone because of the heavy number of closures we saw last calendar year. People are going in with a very solution-oriented mind-set, looking globally at all issues.
Rave also referenced infrastructure issues many of South Dakota’s long-term care facilities are facing, due to aging buildings. “Many of the long-term care facilities in our state are over 70-years old, that is critical. We don’t have enough workers; and we don’t have facilities that are in good physical structure shape anymore. I would like to see some attention given to finding dollars for infrastructure needs. Possibly an incentive so that facilities can use those dollars for building repairs.”
Rave, also touched on the need to have workforce ideas come from the summer study, as workforce challenges continue to hit the long-term care community, sharing that SDAHO was recently awarded a federal grant to help in those efforts. “SDAHO was recently awarded a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) workforce grant. This grant is hyper focused to get frontline workers into facilities. Healthcare positions include environmental services, dietary, CNA’s, those support staff areas. It’s a four-year grant that we are just starting to dive into and that is one area we think we can help.”
To listen to the full interview, visit SDPB here