Monday, May 11, 2009

2009 Legislative Session Outcomes for Nursing Homes

When legislators cast the final vote on Friday, May 8, nursing homes saw a three-percent cut to their Medicaid rate; however, the Nursing Home Quality Assessment Program will be adjusted to for providers to "offset" the cut through an expanded assessment, thus allowing the state to draw down additional federal dollars to fund nursing home care.

Additionally, there will be no permanent elimination of the annual price level increase in the nursing home budget. Facilities’ financial stability will be preserved, as well as their ability to effectively recruit and retain qualified staff and cover their increasing costs of fuel, utilities and property/casualty insurance. Legislators also agreed to allow a one-year waiver of the lease bond requirements, which takes effect July 1, 2009.

Also taking effect July 1st is the restoration of the 2.9 CNA staffing level contained in the statute. The provision allowing nursing homes to “buy back” their rate cuts will ensure the funding is available to pay for the staffing that is resulting in dramatic improvements to nursing home quality care.

The collective efforts of FHCA members, staff and lobby team resulted in this year's successful outcomes, at a time when many other areas saw significant funding cuts. The impact of the hundreds of nursing home owners, administrators, caregivers and family members descending on the Capitol during Lobby Wednesdays, as well as the thousands of e-mails sent to legislators urging them to protect funding for nursing home residents did not go unnoticed. FHCA is thankful to all who helped make a difference during the 2009 session to preserve quality care for our state’s frail elders.