Well-Being of 60,000 Frail, Medicaid-Dependent Seniors at Stake in Budget End Game

Budget Conferees Urged to Prioritize Medicaid Funding for Texas' Most Vulnerable Frail, Disabled Texans

07 May, 2013, 10:56 ET from Texas Health Care Association

AUSTIN, Texas, May 7, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Noting the Chair of the Texas Health Care Association's (THCA) Nurse Council recently warned the ongoing provision of quality nursing home care to Texas seniors could be compromised by the continuation of unacceptably low state Medicaid reimbursements, THCA President Tim Graves said the continued well-being of 60,000 frail, Medicaid dependent seniors is unquestionably at stake in the state budget end-game now underway.

"We take very seriously the recent warning from our Nurse Council Chair that nursing home staffing levels are threatened by Medicaid funding levels that are less than the cost of actually providing care, and we believe the very well-being of 60,000 of frail, elderly and disabled Texans hangs in the balance as budget conferees make final determinations about funding priorities," stated Graves. "Texas nursing homes have absorbed deep Medicaid and Medicare cuts over the past several years, Medicaid reimbursement levels have been too low for too long, and now is the time for the Legislature to address this worsening crisis."

Graves is referring to the recently reported comments by Julie Sulik, Chair of THCA's Nurse Council, warning about staffing stability and the threat to seniors' care. Sulik, from College Station, TX, is quoted by Modern Healthcare saying: "We care for 60,000 elderly and disabled Texas seniors dependent upon Medicaid, and our facilities simply cannot continue to operate at current staffing levels if Medicaid funding remains well below the actual cost of caring for our elderly. The Legislature would need to boost reimbursement rates more than 16 percent to cover the actual cost of caring for the elderly poor."

Graves noted Medicaid was cut $58 million in 2011, Medicare was just cut $51 million last month, and that a variety of federal regulatory actions have occurred over the past several years that effectively reduce overall nursing home funding. THCA, AARP Texas, the Texas Silver Haired Legislature and other seniors' advocacy organizations have repeatedly 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 failed since 1999 to fully fund those reasonable increases with appropriations.

SOURCE Texas Health Care Association