Thursday, February 10, 2011

Governor's budget includes across-the-board cuts to providers

Governor Rick Scott released his budget Monday, which included a 5 percent reduction of nursing home reimbursement rates ($140.6 million). Hospice rates are indirectly reduced $11.8 million as a result of the nursing home rate reduction, and the number of bed-hold days are being reduced from 8 days to 5 days, resulting in a reduction of $5.3 million.

Florida Health Care Association anticipated funding cuts given the magnitude of  the budget deficit the state is facing. Nursing homes’ financial stability is always sensitive to cuts in the Medicaid budget, since two-thirds of the residents we care for rely on Medicaid to cover the cost of their care. There is also the concern that funding cuts could have an impact on caregiver jobs, since nursing homes devote a full 70 percent of operating expenses to wages, benefits and other labor costs. Long term care is the state's 14th largest employer, so stable Medicaid funding not only is important to helping us provide quality care but also support jobs in our local communities.

Medicaid funding plays a key role in supporting the health care needs of the elderly and people with disabilities, 60 percent of who rely on Medicaid to cover the cost of their long term care services.  The Legislature must bring stability to the Medicaid program to ensure long term care providers have the resources needed to continue providing quality care to our state’s seniors. As Florida’s Baby Boomer population continues to age, the potential for increased job growth – a priority of Florida’s Governor – is huge; however, adequate Medicaid funding is needed to meet the demand for quality long term care services in the coming years.

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