With Local Facilities Under Cumulative Funding Cut Duress, THCA Leader Urges Increased Legislative Focus on Growing Threat to Texas Seniors' Nursing Home Care
AUSTIN, Texas, April 5, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Following passage of SB 1 late last night by the Texas House or Representatives, the leader of the Texas Health Care Association (THCA) expressed growing alarm that the worsening financial squeeze on Texas nursing homes caused by recent Medicaid and Medicare funding cuts will have a significantly negative impact on facilities' overall operational stability, and ultimately jeopardize the care of Texas' most vulnerable frail, elderly and disabled citizens.
"The House vote last night is indicative of the fact the funding needed to ensure the ongoing provision of quality nursing home care continues to fall short in the face of $58 million Medicaid cuts in 2011 and $51 million Medicare cuts just last month," said Tim Graves, President of THCA. "We respect our elected leaders' continued focus on Medicaid expansion and other matters, but we believe it also now time to focus on Medicaid funding adequacy for our oldest, most vulnerable nursing home patients."
Asked what actions they may be forced to consider in 2013 as a result of the worsening funding squeeze, Graves pointed to a recent survey of Texas nursing homes finding that 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 and 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.The THCA leader pointed out 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. THCA, AARP Texas and other seniors' advocacy organizations have recently noted Texas' nursing home reimbursement methodology recognizes inflation and the normal increases in business costs experienced by nursing home providers, but that the Legislature has repeatedly failed to fund those reasonable increases with appropriations. "Ensuring there is Medicaid funding adequacy for our fathers', mothers' and grandparents' nursing home care is not a partisan issue, and we will continue to press this point," Graves concluded. A recent Baselice & Associates poll finds 72% of Republicans, 82% of Independents and 83% of Democrats support funding Medicaid nursing home care at the rate HHSC is needed. 72% of voters who share Tea Party views "all or most of the time" also agree, as do 73% of self-identified "conservative Republicans". Additional information and methodology notes on the facility survey and poll available at www.txhca.org. About THCA Founded in 1950, the Texas Health Care Association (THCA) is the largest long-term care association in Texas. THCA's membership is comprised of several hundred licensed non-profit and for-profit skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), specialized rehabilitation facilities and assisted living facilities in Texas. These facilities provide comprehensive, around-the-clock nursing care for chronically ill or short-term residents of all ages, along with rehabilitative and specialized medical programs. THCA also represents more than 190 long-term care businesses that provide products and services to the state's approximately 2,850 nursing homes and assisted living facilities. To learn more, visit http://txhca.org/ or connect with THCA on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. SOURCE Texas Health Care Association