Medicaid isn't keeping up with nursing home costs

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All of us want our loved ones to receive the very best when they’re no longer able to live on their own and require the care only available through a nursing home. But over the past few years access to quality nursing home care has been threatened in many Pennsylvania communities.

State reimbursement for care of nursing home residents in the Medicaid program — 65 percent of all nursing home residents — does not cover the real cost of care. A recent study by Avalere Health revealed that nursing homes, like ours, which serve an exceptionally high percentage of Medicaid residents (75 percent and higher) had an average margin of 0.3 percent.

All nursing home administrators want to invest in technology and equipment to enhance care. We want to recruit and retain compassionate, competent caregivers who become an important part of our residents’ lives. These caregivers deserve competitive salaries which reflect the expertise, professionalism and commitment they bring to their physically and emotionally challenging jobs.

This week, there appeared a front-page story in The Boston Globe about four Massachusetts nursing homes that closed because of low Medicaid reimbursement. Consequently, families were faced with scrambling to find new care for their loved ones in a diminishing environment of options.

Pennsylvania legislators need to take note of what’s happening in Massachusetts: Without higher Medicaid reimbursement, it’s only a matter of time until it happens here. Care of the frail and elderly in nursing homes should be a top priority in our state budget.

MARILYN L. CHRISTY
Administrator
ManorCare Health Services
Shadyside


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