Nursing home administrators, nursing staff and other long term care professionals will descend on Florida’s Capitol today to ask lawmakers to reduce the Medicaid funding cuts to preserve quality care and protect caregiver jobs in Florida’s nursing homes. The current Medicaid funding cuts contained in the House ($201 million) and Senate ($144 million) budget proposals would result in over one-third of facilities experiencing negative operating margins, and 50 percent of facilities having profit margins of less than 2.5 percent. A recent report by the Florida Health Care Association indicates that some facilities would lose as much as $1.2 million if the proposed budget cuts go into effect.
“Nearly 70 percent of nursing home costs go to pay for the people delivering quality care in those facilities each day,” said Emmett Reed, Executive Director of the Florida Health Care Association (FHCA), the state’s first and largest advocacy organization for long term care providers and the frail elders they serve. “While we understand the looming budget deficit our state is facing, these proposals fail to think of our state’s most vulnerable seniors, as well as those vital caregivers employed by our state’s 600+ long term care facilities, who all stand to lose from cutting Medicaid funding for nursing home care.”
Additionally, as the House and Senate continue discussions on their Medicaid reform bills, long term care advocates are urging the Senate to support the tort provisions contained in SB 1972, the Senate Medicaid reform bill, which would eliminate loopholes in the law which allow predatory trial attorneys to artificially inflate the costs of defending litigation and the value of claims brought against nursing homes.
“Due to the important role Medicaid plays in long term care funding, comprehensive tort reform allows everyone to win by reducing costs and enhancing quality of care,” Reed continued. “Every dollar that does not go toward predatory lawsuit costs is used for the quality health care of our patients and residents.”
Over 100 representatives from Page Healthcare in Ft. Myers, Life Care Centers of America, which operates 21 skilled nursing facilities in Florida, Lavie Management Services, which manages 53 facilities, and FHCA’s Districts II, IV and V in the Orlando, St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay areas, respectively, were in Tallahassee as part of FHCA’s Lobby Wednesdays. Representatives from Signature HealthCARE also took part in this weekly grassroots initiative, which will bring over 400 long term care professionals to Tallahassee over the course of the 2011 legislative session.