Budget Blueprints Fail to Address Fact Texas Nursing Homes and Their Residents Will Shoulder Nearly $1 Billion in State Government Underfunding
AUSTIN, Texas, Jan. 15, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In the wake of Texas' nursing homes already scrambling to absorb $58 million in Medicaid cuts from the 82nd legislative session, $234 million in 2012 Medicare cuts with the threat of more in 2013, and nearly $1 billion in cumulative state underfunding according to the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), the Texas Health Care Association (THCA) said the budget blueprints put out by the House and Senate shortchange the rising care needs of Texas' oldest, most vulnerable citizens.
"At a time when facilities throughout Texas are caring for a growing population of older seniors with increasingly complex medical conditions, the House and Senate budget blueprints shortchange nursing home care, weaken facilities' ability to weather ongoing state and federal cuts, and completely ignore the multitude of factors squeezing facilities' ability to sustain quality care," stated Tim Graves, President of THCA. "Now that the state of Texas is in a financial position to address health care funding needs, and as Texas' nursing homes and the most vulnerable seniors under their care will be shouldering a nearly $1 billion burden in state government under funding in 2014-2015, the House and Senate budget blueprints are disappointing to say the least."
Graves is referring to the HHSC consolidated budget outline for Medicaid spending in the 2014-2015 biennium, and how it 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. "Lawmakers must adequately adjust for the first time since 1999 the Medicaid funding levels state government itself says are required to preserve and protect quality nursing home care."
Graves said THCA would take this debate to the local level and ensure lawmakers know without a doubt that "this initial proposal is bad for their elderly constituents, and will put the jobs of the front line care workers who make the key difference in patient outcomes at increased risk."
Graves continued to express 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 disconcerting to see Texas seniors 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," the THCA leader warned.
"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. "Adequate Medicaid funding, as estimated by the Health and Human Services Commission, is vital for protecting seniors and the dedicated caregivers who make the critical difference in quality," 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'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