AARP Texas and Texas Silver Haired Legislature Join THCA to Stress Urgency of Passing First Medicaid Rate Update Since 1999; Funding Squeeze Putting Care Quality, Key Front Line Caregiver Jobs at Risk
AUSTIN, Texas, March 20, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Following the Texas State Senate vote on SB 1, key seniors' advocacy groups stepped forward today at a capitol news conference to categorically state the spending bill shortchanges care for Texas' Medicaid-dependent nursing home patients, and ignores the direct correlation between quality care and facilities' overall funding adequacy in the face of ongoing state and federal funding cuts. Since 2009, facilities have been forced to absorb a barrage of state and federal funding reductions, including $58 million Medicaid cuts in 2011 and new $51 Medicare cuts just this month.
"SB 1 shortchanges Texas nursing home patients' Medicaid funding, and ignores the direct correlation between adequate funding and facilities' ability to hire and retain the key direct care staff that make a significant difference in quality outcomes," said Tim Graves, President of THCA. "The operational stability of facilities across Texas has been decimated by a barrage of Medicaid and Medicare cuts. The need for legislative focus on Medicaid rates that have not been fully funded since 1999 – literally the last Century – is urgent."
AARP Texas President Ollie Besteiro, stated: " Texas ranks 49 th nationally in Medicaid nursing home reimbursement rates. Retaining quality staff - both nurses and direct care nurse aides, is very difficult at the current funding level. Texas' nursing home reimbursement methodology recognizes inflation and the normal increases in business costs experienced by nursing home providers, but the Legislature has repeatedly failed to fund those reasonable increases with appropriations. Texas nursing homes are long overdue for a Medicaid rate increase."Graves further pointed out that the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) consolidated budget outline for Medicaid spending in the 2014-2015 biennium will require a 16.84% rate increase -- $372 million in General Revenue (GR) and $925 million in all funds -- simply to meet the cost of caring for today's nearly 60,000 elderly and disabled Texans living in nursing homes. Graves said a new THCA survey of facilities across Texas corroborates fears surrounding staffing retention, and finds strong majorities may have to freeze wages, defer investment in new technologies, or reduce the staff benefits that help retain key frontline care staff. Asked what actions they may be forced to consider in 2013 as a result of the worsening funding squeeze, facilities reported the following:
- 84.3 % of facilities may have to freeze wages;
- 81.8% may have to defer facility expansions or renovations;
- 78.4% may have to defer investment in new technology, therapy equipment;
- 75% may have to defer, reduce or change staff benefits;
- 31.1% may have to lay off direct care staff;
- 18.4% may be forced to consider actually closing their facility.