BOSTON—In a critical move, the Massachusetts House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to override Governor Charlie Baker's veto of $7.5 million in Medicaid nursing facility funding. 

Currently, three-quarters of the state’s nursing facilities have a combined negative margin of 4.4%, an indication that the sector is experiencing an unprecedented financial crisis---a crisis brought on by the state’s lack of investment in nursing home Medicaid funding.  Nearly 70% of skilled nursing home residents have their care paid for by Medicaid. 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.

“For roughly a decade state Medicaid funding for nursing home care has remained largely stagnant, yet the cost of care has risen substantially.  MassHealth underfunds nursing home care by an alarming $37 per resident per day,” said Tara Gregorio, President of the Massachusetts Senior Care Association (MSCA).  “And because of this, we have not been able to adequately invest in resident care and our dedicated staff.”

The lack of investment in the nursing facility skilled workforce makes it difficult to attract and retain staff. Currently 1 in 7 nursing positions remains unfilled---a significant jump from 2016, where 1 in 10 positions were vacant.

The Senate is expected to take up override decisions later this month. A favorable vote of two-thirds of the Senate will be needed to override the Governor's veto.

MSCA first launched the Quality Jobs for Quality Care Campaign in 2015.  Last year the Baker-Polito Administration and the legislature recognized the importance of wage increases for frontline staff, with the state budget ultimately providing a $35.5 million for one-time wage increases for 8 designated positions.  For FY 2018, MSCA continues to seek the $90 million necessary to provide a pathway to a living wage for nursing home workers.

Nursing home facilities are the second largest health care employer in the state, employing more than 77,000 individuals.

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.