The Massachusetts Senior Care Association (MSCA) today thanked House and Senate lawmakers for their support in increasing Medicaid funding to more realistically account for the cost of resident care, while stressing that the acute workforce shortage necessitates the need for additional supplemental funding to provide quality care to residents.

More than two-thirds of nursing home residents rely on MassHealth--the state's Medicaid program--to cover the cost of their care.  Currently, there remains a shortfall of $25 per resident, per day between state funding and the cost of providing care, which has resulted in an annual shortfall of approximately $175 million. 

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate, in their respective FY 2022 budget recommendations, included funding to better recognize current resident care costs by adjusting funding levels based on 2019 costs.

"We are grateful to Massachusetts lawmakers for recognizing the critical need to support our 32,000 nursing facility residents who can no longer live safely in the community and rely on our dedicated caregivers for assistance with virtually all aspects of daily living," said Tara Gregorio, President of MSCA.  "As deliberations begin on the state’s plan to allocate five billion dollars in federal stimulus spending, we will again be calling on lawmakers and the Governor to provide additional funding to support ongoing infection control standards, increasing staff wages to attract and retain staff, securing PPE, continued surveillance testing for staff and residents, new HVAC systems, and other additional costs associated with the pandemic and its effects."

"We can't wait for another pandemic to pay our dedicated and tireless staff what they deserve," said Naomi Prendergast, President and CEO of D'Youville Life and Wellness Community, a non-profit skilled nursing facility in Lowell.  "In order to recruit and retain workers, we need to pay them a living wage now and put them on an upward career path."

Currently, 75% of every nursing home dollar spent goes towards staff wages.

"Our frontline staff  provide high quality and compassionate care to our residents, helping them with the most intimate daily tasks. They truly become like family to them," said Sister Jacquelyn McCarthy, CEO and Administrator at Bethany Health Care Center, a sponsored ministry of the sisters of Joseph in Framingham.  "Because what we can pay them is directly tied to Medicaid reimbursement, many are working two or three jobs to make ends meet, or leaving for work at big box stores.  We need to provide them incentives to stay and pay them what they deserve."

Fifty percent of the cost would be paid for by the Federal Financial Participation monies.