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Hot Springs, Sturgis VA medical centers on chopping block

Most VA healthcare in western South Dakota would shift to a new Rapid City hospital
Published: Mar. 14, 2022 at 1:13 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - If the Veterans Administration recommendations survive the coming political battle, Sturgis and Hot Springs will lose medical centers while a new facility will be built in Rapid City.

In a report filed in the Federal Register Monday, the VA claims that keeping medical centers at Fort Meade and Hot Springs, providing the same services, is not sustainable. See the specific recommendations for VISN 23 South Dakota West Market here.

While Sturgis and Hot Springs would lose the hospitals, the VA says it will build new outpatient clinics in the towns; and expand partnerships with community providers.

The proposed Rapid City VA medical center would become a primary location for care. Co-located with that facility would be a new 46-bed residential rehabilitation treatment program and a 54-bed community living center. The VA’s current Rapid City outpatient clinic would close once the hospital opens.

According to the VA, there are 12,332 enrollees within 60 minutes of the proposed Rapid City hospital; with 21,332 veterans enrolled in the market. Of course, moving the bulk of VA medical services to Rapid City means shorter or longer trips to obtain health care, depending on where the veteran lives.

The VA currently has 171 medical facilities and 1,000 outpatient sites serving an estimated nine million veterans. More than half of the VA’s facilities were built before 1959; and according to the report, the cost of repairing many of those facilities is more than the cost to replace them, including the facilities in western South Dakota.

AIR Commission Timeline

· TBD - President Joe Biden appoints nine people to an Asset and Infrastructure Review Commission.

· Through Jan. 31, 2023: AIR Commission conducts hearings and investigations of the VA’s restructuring plan.

· Jan. 31, 2023 - AIR Commission sends its recommendations to the president.

· March 1, 2023 – If the president disapproves recommendations, AIR Commission will analyze reasons for disapproval and resubmit recommendations no later than March 15, 2023. If the president doesn’t take action by March 30, 2023, then the AIR process is terminated.

· March 30, 2023 - If recommendations are approved by the president, they are then sent to Congress. If Congress passes a joint resolution of disapproval within 45 days, the AIR process is terminated.

· Feb. 15, 2026 – If Congress fails to act, the VA begins implementation of recommendations.

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