61.4% of Nursing Home-Associated Texas Businesses See Reduced Facility Purchasing in Wake of Medicaid-Medicare Funding Cuts

New Modern Healthcare Story Details Funding Squeeze on Nursing Home Patient Care

Apr 29, 2013, 14:27 ET from Texas Health Care Association from ,Texas Coalition for Long Term Care Business

AUSTIN, Texas, April 29, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As a newly-published story in Modern Healthcare reports how underfunded state Medicaid rates are squeezing nursing home patient care for 60,000 elderly and disabled seniors dependent upon the program, the Texas Health Care Association (THCA) says a new statewide survey from the Texas Coalition for Long Term Care Business (TCLTCB) helps dramatize how state economic activity is slowed by the state's 49th ranked reimbursement rate.

According to a new survey of TCLTCB's statewide membership, 61.4% of businesses surveyed said they have experienced a reduction in overall purchases from Texas nursing home customers over the past five years, leading THCA President Tim Graves to point out how chronically low state Medicaid rates coupled with federal Medicare cuts takes its toll not just on nursing homes' operational stability, but on local jobs as well. Graves noted Medicaid was cut $58 million in 2011 and Medicare was just cut $51 million last month.

"The bottom line is that state Medicaid rates have been too low for too long, and we believe the growing threat to quality nursing home care as well as local economic activity is a direct result of the cumulative Medicaid and Medicare funding squeeze," stated Graves. "The correlation between Medicaid and Medicare cuts and the dual threat to elderly patients and local jobs is unmistakable -- especially throughout rural Texas where nursing homes are often the largest local employer."

"Simply put, jobs are at stake," according to Buddy Parker, founder of the TCLTCB, who was with members last week at the capitol meeting with lawmakers about the crisis. "Healthcare is one of the top three sectors keeping the Texas economy growing and the long term care sector is a big contributor on a local, regional and state level," Parker said. "Policymakers must understand that the impact of these cuts reverberate far beyond the walls of a skilled nursing facility, and if facilities can't purchase our products, the viability of our companies will be lost and so will jobs."

Meanwhile, Modern Healthcare reports that Chairman of the House Appropriations sub-committee on health issues, Rep. John Zerwas (R-Richmond), is noting that provider rates have been "whittled down" in a manner whereby access to care may be put in jeopardy. Julie Sulik, Chair of THCA's nursing council is quoted 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."

THCA, AARP Texas 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.

About THCAFounded 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.

The Texas Coalition for Long Term Care Business (TCLTCB) is an association of Texas-based long term care businesses providing valuable products and services to the state's  nursing homes and assisted living facilities caring for more than 60,000 elderly and disabled residents statewide.  To view the coalition website, click here: www.tcltcb.org

SOURCE Texas Health Care Association; Texas Coalition for Long Term Care Business