Texas Eldercare Leader Warns Ongoing Budget Chaos in Washington Serves as Ominous Session Backdrop; Robust State Medicaid Funding Essential to Protecting Most Vulnerable Texans
AUSTIN, Texas, Jan. 8, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In conjunction with the opening of the 83rd Session of the Texas Legislature, the Texas Health Care Association (THCA) today initiated an Austin-American Statesman print and online ad effort stressing the fact the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) says Medicaid spending in the 2014-2015 Biennium will require $925 million just to meet the cost of caring for the nearly 60,000 Medicaid-dependent elderly and disabled Texans living in Texas nursing homes. (ad available at www.txhca.org)
"We understand there are many budgetary priorities to be considered by the Legislature in the coming weeks and months, but we intend to make an aggressive, ongoing case that it is wrong to force Texas' nursing homes and the most vulnerable seniors under their care to shoulder an almost $1 billion burden in state government under funding," said Tim Graves, President of THCA. "THCA will urge lawmakers to adequately adjust for the first time since 1999 the Medicaid funding levels state government itself says are required to preserve and protect quality care."
The 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 expressed significant alarm about the ongoing budgetary chaos in Washington, whereby the fiscal cliff – and more deep cuts to Medicare -- has simply been postponed for two months. "It is enormously disconcerting to see Texas patients and facilities across Texas essentially held hostage to the frustrating budget process in Washington, where deep cuts to seniors' critical funding are always a threat on the horizon."
Against this backdrop of federal budget uncertainty – and $58 million state Medicaid funding reductions in 2011 and $234 million in federal Medicare cuts in 2012 – the THCA leader said it is critical for Texas lawmakers to view the unfolding state budget debate through this lens, and that robust state Medicaid funding is essential to preserving quality patient care.
"A full 80 to 85 percent of Texas nursing home patients depend upon either Medicaid or Medicare funding, or both, for their care," Graves continued. "Robust Medicaid funding here in Texas is a vital insurance policy to protecting seniors and the dedicated caregivers who make the critical difference in patient outcomes," Graves continued.
Typically in their 80s and older, and disproportionately afflicted with severe, chronic health and medical conditions — these seniors, Graves said, require specialized round-the-clock care that can only be secured in nursing homes.
Founded in 1950, the Texas Health Care Association (THCA) is the largest long term care association in Texas. THCA represents a broad spectrum of long-term care providers and professionals offering long term, rehabilitative and specialized health care services. Member facilities, owned by both for-profit and non-profit entities, include nursing facilities, specialized rehabilitation facilities, and assisted living facilities.
SOURCE Texas Health Care Association