Another nursing home closes amid funding crisis
HURON, S.D. — Another nursing home will be closing its doors in the state of South Dakota. The Violet Tschetter Memorial Home in Huron announced it will shut down after operating in the community for 59 years.
The announcement comes amid concerns that South Dakota is suffering a nursing home crises due to Medicaid and Medicare funding shortages.
This is the sixth nursing home closure in the past three years, with three of those closures happening in the past month or so.
Health officials say the closures are because nursing homes simply can’t stay afloat with the rising cost of health care and lack of funding from the state to reimburse Medicaid and Medicare expenses.
According to Laura Wilson, an administrator at Tieszen Memorial Home in Marion, “If we want to stay in business, we have to offer attractive wages and benefits to our workers. But we also have to offer and deliver the best possible care you would expect if your family member was placed in our facility.”
Wilson says that’s becoming harder and harder to do with the lack of adequate reimbursement for Medicaid and Medicare residents, “People are paying anywhere between $72 and $75 dollars more than our Medicaid residents for the exact same care … The state has lost sight of what our true costs are to deliver care in nursing homes in 2019.”
State health officials say that nursing homes in South Dakota lose an estimated $58.30 a day for each Medicaid resident in their center. Annually, that’s $66 million statewide.
Although two bills were proposed this legislative season that would have increased reimbursement rates through a one-time funding allotment, they were both voted down by lawmakers.
Opponents said the measures only provided short-term funding, but didn’t do enough to solve the problem going into the future.
During a legislative hearing on one of the bills, House Bill 1060, Rep. Hugh Bartels argued, “This really isn’t the vehicle that we need to address this. We need to put it in the general appropriations bill and have ongoing funding. A one-time shot into this program is not the solution at all.”
Additionally, some lawmakers expressed that they would rather overhaul the whole system and look for other solutions, instead of increasing reimbursement funds.
Wilson disagrees with this opinion, arguing, “We have a system in place, if it were just used and properly funded to today’s cost.”
According to Mark Deak, director of the South Dakota Health Care Association, “We must do more to take care of our elderly parents, grandparents and other loved ones. It’s absolutely critical that we change course.”
Violet Tschetter Memorial Home says it will be closing its doors on May 10.