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Over 20 recommendations advanced by long-term care board

An interim legislative committee examining South Dakota's long-term care issues has issued final recommendations ranging from funding new technologies to improving workforce development.

The long-term care board, which has met over the legislative offseason, finalized on Wednesday their report for lawmakers’ consideration.

Over 20 recommendations were advanced to lawmakers, beginning with the recommendation of a childhood health care program and linking elementary-aged students into elder care settings to help motivate the next generation of workforce.

That connects to the recommendations surrounding Dakota Corps and the Build Dakota Scholarship. The workforce subgroup supported expanding both these programs.

Further, a change to the critical teaching scholarship has been proposed. That scholarship, established in 2013, was designed to encourage students to consider a career in education, specifically in fields that face a critical shortage in the state. The new recommendations would change that to the broader workforce at minimal extra cost.

Board member David Wheeler, a Republican state senator representing the Huron area, questioned the potential impact the decision could have on educators.

“I don’t know if there’s an expansion of funds coming with that, but I think the education community is going to see its share of the pie shrink dramatically when we have difficulty getting elementary teachers," Wheeler said. "Obviously, workforce is a problem everywhere, but I think expanding that instead of just a critical teaching scholarship – I think you’ll have a lot of work to get buy-in from the education community on that unless there’s a substantial increase in funds so they don’t lose what they have.”

Finally, an application process and additional funding for technology grants for resources like telehealth, technology for staff and residents of long-term facilities, and health monitoring systems were also advanced.

The board also drafted bills amending the reimbursement eligibilities for regional nursing facilities and proposing a study on Medicaid program options. These proposals will be sent to lawmakers in the next legislative session.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture