While expanding Medicaid is a very important issue to support, there are problems that the Texas Legislature has caused to one part of the program today and since 1999, particularly to the State Medicaid nursing home program. The problem isn’t only that the State of Texas would cut its own investment in Medicaid, it’s the fact that there is an even bigger reduction in Texas’ Medicaid allotment from the Federal government with ever dollar cut by the Texas Legislature. Given the chance that Medicaid is at risk of federal cuts because of the so-called sequester, we are in the midst of a health care crisis if the Legislature does not act during the 83rd legislative session.
As the Trib reported last year, nursing homes were not hit with the anticipated 33% state-federal benefit cut, but they still experienced a 3% cut which hit nursing home facilities to the tune of over $58 million. What’s worse, is that Texas reimburses nursing homes at a rate of $126 per day, far less than the $176 per day national average. When one realizes that 70% of nursing home residents are enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program, then one fully realizes the extent of any cuts to the program and its weak reimbursement rate.
As the Texas Health Care Association puts it:
The Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) says Medicaid spending in 2014-2015 will require $925 million just to meet the cost of caring for the nearly 60,000 Medicaid-dependent elderly and disabled Texans living in nursing homes.
This means Texas nursing homes and their residents will shoulder a nearly $1 billion burden in state government underfunding unless the Texas legislature adds that amount in the state budget for the next two years.
Obviously, this is an issue near and dear to my heart because my elderly mother and many Texas grandmothers and mothers are beneficiaries of this program, and that even the best-run nursing homes are talking about shutting down is something that should scare all Texans, but it should also be a call to action.
- Tell them that you know someone in a Texas nursing home,
- Tell them that you support an increase in the daily rate for Nursing Home Medicaid to meet the cost of providing quality care for frail elderly Texans.
- And remind them that Texas ranks 49th in reimbursement rates and that elderly Texans who have helped make Texas what it is today are at risk of poor quality care and the closure of their nursing homes. They deserve better from our elected officials.
There are many issues before the State Legislature, especially regarding health care. Nursing Home Medicaid is especially in a crisis mode. Act today and act everyday to support Nursing Home Medicaid.
This is just a start. DosCentavos will be writing more about this crisis as the Legislative Session continues.