AUSTIN, Texas, Feb. 28, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- State Representative Stephanie Klick (R-North Richland Hills) filed legislation to improve quality of care in Texas nursing homes. Filed Monday, House Bill 2454, would create a quality-based payment program directing Medicaid dollars toward the achievement of quality indicators such as higher direct-care staffing levels and positive clinical outcomes for Texas nursing home residents. "As a nurse and caregiver, I filed this legislation to invest resources in nursing homes that provide quality care for senior Texans," says Representative Klick. "The Texas legislature is entrusted with maintaining the quality of care in Texas nursing homes and this bill will provide a free-market incentive for providers to improve quality of care."
Recent attention has focused on how Texas lags behind almost all other states in certain measures of nursing home quality. Texas currently operates on a one-size fits all Medicaid reimbursement system. Under the one-size fits all model, there is no distinction between quality providers and poor performing facilities. All facilities, regardless of their level of care, receive the same reimbursement from the state. The current system lacks accountability, discourages nursing home owners from spending to improve care, and provides no incentives for nursing homes that maintain a high standard of quality.
For decades, legislators and advocates have searched for solutions to improve access to quality senior care, while recognizing the dire level of state funding for elderly care. Patrick Crump, President & CEO of Morningside Ministries says, "it is time we do something different and work to improve the quality of care for our most frail and vulnerable elderly population. The approach by Representative Klick takes us in a positive and new direction for achieving quality, and encourages poor performing nursing homes to improve."
Besides quality funding incentives, the legislature is proposing solutions that focus on increased regulatory penalties for underachieving nursing homes and repeated bad actors. "We need both a carrot and stick approach to the market," says George Linial, President of LeadingAge Texas. Several bills focus on the regulatory climate around nursing homes. "Low quality facilities should be pushed to do better, and there should be strict regulatory penalties for those continuously failing to provide good care." By tying dollars directly to quality, House Bill 2454 takes a different approach by rewarding nursing homes that meet certain high standards of care.
Texas nursing homes experience one of the highest employee turnover rates in any healthcare setting contributing to its overall quality score. The average wage paid to direct-care staff is $10.79 an hour. House Bill 2454 seeks to strengthen the long-term care workforce by promoting higher staffing levels, improving wages and benefits, and retention efforts.
LeadingAge Texas is in full support of Representative Klick's bill. According to Linial, "this bill moves us away from an anti-free market policy of paying all nursing homes the same, to a free-market solution that directs taxpayer resources toward quality care. To become a leader in nursing home quality, Texas must stop spending on substandard care and start investing in nursing homes dedicated to providing a better quality of life to our seniors."
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SOURCE LeadingAge Texas