As the state Legislature considers comprehensive Medicaid reform, Florida Health Care Association, the state’s first and largest advocacy organization representing long term care providers and the frail elders they serve, is launching a campaign to raise awareness about the quality care in Florida’s nursing homes – care that is delivered efficiently and for seniors with 24-7 medical needs, could not be delivered safely elsewhere.
The “Safeguard Our Seniors” Campaign will educate the public and policymakers about the type of residents cared for in nursing homes today – vulnerable, frail elders with complex medical needs. Studies from the Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability have shown that just over 1% of nursing home residents could be safely transitioned into community settings. In 2009, the Nursing Home Transition Program confirmed this analysis, indicating that the majority of individuals in nursing homes are there because they need to be. They are more physically frail and there is no alternative for them to receive that same level of complex care in a safe and quality environment.
The Campaign comes on the heels of the Senate’s release of its Medicaid reform plan, which raised concern among providers as to its ability to guarantee a 7 percent savings in its first year of implementation without negatively affecting quality care. In testimony today before the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee, Marilyn Wood, President & CEO of Opis Management Resources, which operates 11 skilled nursing facilities in Florida, and a member of Florida Health Care Association’s Executive Committee, noted that “given the fact that all studies point to nursing home residents being appropriately placed, we believe that a 7 percent mandated savings can only be achieved during the first year by cutting provider rates. Additional cuts on top of those mandated savings would be needed to offset managed care companies’ administrative costs.
Wood noted that nursing homes are extremely sensitive to Medicaid rate reductions, since nearly 60 percent of nursing home residents rely on Medicaid to cover their health care costs. Twenty four percent of facilities are operating with negative margins, and “with nearly 70-percent of nursing home operating costs paying for labor – nurses, CNAs and other staff working to provide quality care – there is nowhere else for us to trim costs without cutting services and caregiver jobs and putting quality care for the residents at risk.”
“We understand the difficult position facing the Legislature as they work to reign in the Medicaid program,” she said. “But we are in the business of providing efficient and quality care to our state’s most vulnerable citizens. We will continue to work with [lawmakers] to achieve a successful Medicaid reform program; however, we must safeguard our seniors to ensure the plan does not undo the steady improvements we have made to quality nursing home care over the past 10 years.”
The Safeguard Our Seniors campaign will feature a website containing demographic information about quality and efficient delivery of nursing home care in Florida, links to recent reports on Medicaid reform and managed long term care, and an opportunity for visitors to contact their lawmakers and express their concerns. Visit the site at http://www.safeguardourseniors.org/.
For more information about the Safeguard Our Seniors Campaign or to acquire a copy of the testimony delivered by Marilyn Wood, contact Kristen Knapp at (850) 224-3907 or firstname.lastname@example.org.