New senior care funding model a win/win

A new funding process for assisted living services in South Dakota is good news for the state, senior citizens and their families.

Gov. Kristi Noem, in her budget address earlier this month, said that many times elderly citizens become residents of assisted living centers and initially can afford the services provided to them.

But, when the elderly need more care the next step is usually to a nursing home which costs more and uproots the person from an environment to which they have become accustomed. 

“As soon as their care elevates to a certain level to where the assisted living can’t handle it anymore, it automatically kicks them into nursing homes,” the governor said during a town hall meeting in Rapid City on Dec. 4.

When the needs of the resident rises above a level that the assisted living is no longer reimbursed for, residents are often moved to a nursing home.

“That may not be what they really need at that point in time, it can be over care for what their condition really is,” Noem said.

So, the state will develop rate tiers that will allow the assisted living center to retain a resident.

“If that person needs an extra hour or two of care a day, we will pay them a little bit more to keep that individual longer,” the governor said. “It will save the state money by saving us money on the nursing home side.”

Noem said families have often asked about such a tiered system, but that was never an option. Noem said the state had been talking about this system for several years, but are finally going to address the issue this year.

“We are going to follow through on what we can do concerning this. We are committed to taking care of the folks who have raised us and taught us that South Dakota is a pretty special place,” she said. 

Noem’s 2021 budget proposes $2.6 million in total funds to help change the assisted living care reimbursement model, which she says will better equip providers to accommodate individuals. 

And with the change, assisted living facilities will be reimbursed using actual cost report data, and tiered rates will be implemented with increases based on average care staffing wages. 

We applaud the governor for being committed to providing the best care possible for the elderly in our state. This system certainly sounds like a win/win for everyone involved.

Black Hills Pioneer,

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