As we enter February, the pace in Pierre is picking up! The deadline for introducing bills was Thursday and upon final tally, the legislature will consider nearly 500 bills, resolutions and commemorations over the next several weeks.
On Monday, AARP South Dakota testified in support of Senate Bill (SB) 96. SB 96 will help to expand the use of telehealth in our state by allowing the patient-provider relationship to be established via technology, if certain conditions are met. In short, this bill will :
- Recognize the value of additional telehealth technologies with an updated definition.
- Allow telehealth to be used to establish a patient-provider relationship in a safe, responsible manner.
- Hold telehealth to the standard of care applicable for the situation.
- Hold providers to a standard they know and are accustomed to.
- Allow patients to continue to utilize telehealth to receive services.
As COVID-19 has shown, telehealth can be an invaluable tool to delivering services to patients, particularly vulnerable populations and those with limited access to care due to distance and/or lack of transportation. SB 96 passed in the Senate Health & Human Services committee and on the floor of the Senate and now moves over to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Additionally, with AARP South Dakota's support, House Bill (HB) 1013, which provides property and sales tax refunds to low income seniors, has passed through the House Appropriations Committee and goes to the full House of Representatives for their consideration.
- We know that property taxes can be the single most burdensome tax for low-income and older homeowners. Many of our state's elderly citizens have lived in their homes for generations and as their property values have appreciated, so have their property taxes. Furthermore, seniors often live on fixed incomes and cannot afford the yearly increases in their property taxes while also meeting their basic needs for food, medicine and utilities.
We applaud the Governor and Legislature for supporting this program over the years.
Finally, AARP South Dakota has also testified in support of Senate Bill (SB) 31, an elder abuse protection bill that strengthens state and local agencies ability to prevent, identify and address cases of elder abuse.
- The bill, which was brought by the South Dakota Department of Human Services, provides specific guidance on information sharing for adult protective services investigations and allows more efficient delivery of services to vulnerable adults in South Dakota.
SB 31 passed both the Senate Judiciary committee and on the Senate floor and now moves over to the House for consideration.
Even in these unprecedented times, it's important that your legislators hear from you! Many legislative coffees (aka cracker barrels) are being streamed online so you can still participate in this open forum with your elected officials. Click here for a list of these events and please remember to take all recommended COVID safety precautions.
If you are not able to safely participate in a local conversation, consider calling or emailing your legislator directly!