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PNS Daily Newscast - August 7, 2020 

The State Attorney of NY moves to dissolve the NRA; an update on the potential wave of pandemic evictions.

2020Talks - August 7, 2020 

The Commission on Presidential Debates rejects Trump campaign's request for a fourth debate. Hawaii has a primary tomorrow, but there are only 8 vote service centers.

South Dakota Seniors Keep Watch on Stimulus Package

March 3, 2009

Pierre, SD – With just two weeks remaining in the South Dakota legislative session, policymakers are anxiously eyeing the new federal stimulus package and the impact it will have on the state's budget. It could bring a collective sigh of relief to lawmakers who are trying to restore $8 million in Medicaid funding cuts recommended by the governor to cover a major shortfall.

What people don't understand about the Medicaid program, says Sam Wilson, associate state director for South Dakota AARP, is the central role it plays in state healthcare.

"Whether it be in our nursing homes or our home and communities-based services programs, through our nutrition sites and other programs that assist older South Dakotans, the strength of the Medicaid program correlates directly to the ability of our healthcare providers, home health providers, institutional providers - all of those folks - being able to provide adequate care for our state's rapidly aging population."

It is appropriate, Wilson adds, that that policymakers are cautious about spending stimulus money that won't be there two years from now. However, he warns that being "penny wise now and pound foolish in the future" will leave bigger gaps in healthcare access across the state.

"Much of what we've done and addressed in the long-term care setting is to ensure that we have providers who aren't making tough decisions between, 'Can I accept a Medicaid patient, or do I just have to turn them away because provider payments aren't high enough?' Or perhaps we don't have people offering home health services in rural areas, because the Medicaid payment provider reimbursement levels are just not high enough to support those types of services."

Wilson points out that Medicaid dollars aren't socked away in a trust fund - they are used to employ South Dakota residents. That keeps the state's economy churning, with wages alone turning over four times as employees purchase goods and services. So, he says, those dollars and jobs are every bit as effective as the shovel-ready construction projects that have made recent news headlines - and losing them, especially in the state's smaller communities, would be devastating.

David Law, Public News Service - SD