THCA: Senate Finance Committee's SB 1 Shortchanges Texas Seniors' Nursing Home Care Despite Growing Threats

State Long Term Care Leader Says Significantly More Focus Needed on Adequacy of Texas Seniors' State Medicaid Rates

AUSTIN, Texas, March 13, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As Texas nursing home patients and the facilities that provide for their care scramble to cope with a successive series of deep Medicaid and Medicare funding cuts, the Texas Health Care Association (THCA) today said that SB 1 currently ignores the growing threat to quality patient care, and shortchanges the rising care needs of Texas lawmakers' most vulnerable constituents.

"Although we understand the difficulties of constructing the state's budget amid many competing needs, SB 1 at this point is extremely disappointing.  It basically shortchanges the rising care needs of Texas' oldest, most vulnerable seniors at a time when the accumulation of deep Medicaid and Medicare cuts is having a profoundly negative impact on facilities' economic stability," warned Tim Graves, President of THCA. "The disturbing 'facts on the ground' speak for themselves in regard to how facilities and patient care are being affected in an increasingly dangerous manner, and we will continue to convey these details to the Legislature."

Graves said 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.

Following the $58 million state Medicaid cut in 2011 and a series of federal Medicare cuts since 2009 – the latest being a $51 million cut associated with the federal 'sequester' – Texas nursing homes reported in a survey released earlier this week that strong majorities may have to freeze wages, defer investment in new technologies, or reduce the staff benefits that help retain the key frontline care staff who make a key difference in patient outcomes.

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.

"We believe it is incumbent on lawmakers to adequately adjust for the first time since 1999 the Medicaid funding levels state government itself says are required to preserve and protect their most vulnerable constituents' access to quality nursing home care, and we will step up our activities to ensure this message is heard," concluded Graves. 

Additional details and methodology notes on new facility survey 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



RELATED LINKS
http://www.txhca.org

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