MA NURSING HOME SECTOR TO SOUND THE ALARM TO LAWMAKERS AT MONDAY STATE HOUSE HEARING
NURSING HOME STABILIZATION BILLS RECOGNIZE UNPRECEDENTED FINANCIAL CRISIS JEOPARDIZING ACCESS TO QUALITY CARE
35 HOMES POTENTIALLY AT RISK OF CLOSING THIS YEAR
BOSTON --- Saying the need is now, the Massachusetts Senior Care Association, along with nursing home direct care workers, residents, their families and providers will urge the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs on Monday to approve legislation to stabilize the nursing home sector and ensure continued access to quality nursing home care for frail elders and disabled individuals.
35 homes are projected to be at risk of closure this year, on the heels of 20 homes that
shut their doors in recent months. With a majority of nursing homes in the state operating with growing budget shortfalls due primarily to low Medicaid/MassHealth reimbursement, access to quality care is in jeopardy. Half of the communities in the Commonwealth are already at risk of being at maximum capacity if just one facility closes.
Seventy percent of nursing home residents rely on the state’s MassHealth program to
pay for their care. But the state’s reimbursement formula is based on costs from 12 years ago, which results in an annual $360 million shortfall between Medicaid funding and the cost of providing quality nursing home care.
The Committee’s hearing docket includes S.352/H.610 -- Acts Relative to Stabilizing the Commonwealth’s Nursing Facilities sponsored by Senator Harriette Chandler (DWorcester) and Representative Thomas Golden, Jr. (D-Lowell). The legislation would modernize funding for nursing home care to better reflect the cost of caring for today’s nursing home resident and make annual investments in wages for frontline staff. Monday's hearing is at 1pm in Hearing Room A-1 at the State House.
"We are advocating for an update in MassHealth nursing facility funding using more
current 2017 resident care and labor costs in order to ensure that facilities have the
necessary resources to ensure quality resident care," said Tara Gregorio, President of
the Mass Senior Care Association (MSCA). "This update would add just $70 million to the budget, and half of it would be funded by the federal government."
Current law specifically requires that the base year used for establishing MassHealth
nursing facility funding can never be any more than 4 years from the rate year, but
Massachusetts is still using a formula based on 2007 costs.
Last year the state made an investment of $25 million – 1.8% overall increase -- to begin to stabilize the Commonwealth’s 400 nursing homes.
“It is crucial that we continue this important progress and address the growing nursing
facility workforce and funding crisis, which impacts all nursing facilities – not-for-profit, for profit and family owned," said Gregorio, adding, "however, significantly more is needed in order to prevent many regions of the state from losing core facilities."
The current Medicaid funding gap has led to an annual shortfall of nearly $1 million for
each nursing home.
Said Gregorio, “We are grateful for the tremendous support and leadership from many
lawmakers who have expressed their continued commitment to protecting quality resident care and to addressing the funding crisis that has a direct impact on a nursing facility’s ability to invest in resident care and a living wage for our dedicated staff.”
Additionally, the MSCA is asking lawmakers to support S.671/H.618 An Act Relative to
the Nursing Home Quality Jobs Initiative, sponsored by Senator Julian Cyr and
Representative John Lawn. It would require the state to implement scholarship and tuition reimbursement and provide a living wage for 77,000 dedicated nursing home workers.
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 120,000 people a year; employ more than 77,000 staff members; and contribute more than $4 billion annually to the Massachusetts economy.