Funding on its way to help nursing homes?

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - With older adults around 65 years and older, more at risk of getting COVID-19, protecting nursing homes is a major concern.

But federal aid is on the way to help a group of homes that were already struggling to get by.

Sixty million dollars is on it's way to help support nursing homes during this crisis, if the state decides to direct it to these centers.

Since Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed by Congress, Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage will be able to offer about five million dollars a month for the emergency.

"It's our turn to return that favor and give them that care and the protection they are going to need from facing COVID-19," South Dakota Health Care Association Executive Director Mark Deak said.

He said it's a significant amount of money, but if this pandemic persists, it may not be enough.

Deak said nursing homes are underfunded by $48 million a year.

The state seeing six nursing homes close in the past two years.

Though the governor and legislators have tried to help in the past year, Deak said its still not enough.

"The fact is that the residents at our nursing centers and our assisted living facilities are some of the most at risk. And you have caregivers there that are already sacrificing so much working in those centers caring for our seniors and now with potentially asking them to lay their lives on the line," Deak said.

According to Deak, the state is expected to see those funds at the beginning of April.