BOSTON—Following nearly a decade of significant underfunding of Massachusetts nursing homes, five facilities filed notice with the state Department of Public Health last week of their intent to shut down. More than 1,000 residents and staff will be impacted by the announced closures. The Massachusetts Senior Care Association today stressed that these decisions underscore an industry on the brink of collapse due largely to inadequate state Medicaid funding, and that many more closures are possible.
According to state cost report data, each of the homes was operating at a significant loss with most residents having their care paid for by Medicaid.
Statewide, 70% of nursing home residents have their care paid for by the state’s Medicaid program, MassHealth. State funding for nursing home care over the last decade has remained largely stagnant, not nearly keeping pace with the cost of resident care and labor to provide care.
As a result, Massachusetts ranks fourth worst in the nation for funding quality nursing home resident care resulting in more than half of the state’s nursing facilities operating at a loss. Because three-quarters of a nursing facility’s budget is used to fund employee wages and benefits, a facility’s ability to invest in staff is directly tied to state funding.
“It is crucial that Governor Baker and the Legislature elevate nursing facility care to a top
priority,” said Massachusetts Senior Care Association President Tara Gregorio. “We fear these closures are just the beginning, as nursing facility operators and Boards of Trustees contemplate their continued ability to provide high quality care given the state’s refusal to provide sufficient resources.”
In September, the Legislature overrode Governor Baker’s veto of $7.5 million for quality nursing home care. The Governor has yet to implement the authorized funding.
Massachusetts spends approximately $1.7 billion annually for Medicaid nursing home care for about 30,000 long term care residents who receive housing, 24-hour nursing care, therapy and assistance with all activities of daily living. Half of the spending is reimbursed by the federal government. In addition, about 120,000 Massachusetts residents rely on skilled nursing facilities to provide quality care when they are undergoing rehabilitation services after a short hospital stay so they can return home safely.
The Massachusetts Senior Care Association continues to advocate for passage of legislation that would provide immediate funding relief to ensure quality resident care and a living wage for our dedicated frontline staff.
ABOUT MSCA: The Massachusetts Senior Care Association represents a diverse set of organizations that deliver a broad spectrum of services to meet the needs of older adults and people with disabilities. Its members include more than 400 nursing and rehabilitation facilities, assisted living residences, residential care facilities and continuing care retirement communities. Forming a crucial link in the continuum of care, Mass Senior Care facilities provide housing, health care and support services to more than 150,000 people a year; employ more than 77,000 staff members; and contribute more than $4 billion annually to the Massachusetts economy.