Impact on nursing home resident quality care, frontline jobs is topic of legislative visits
Over 75 long term care employees from Opis Management Resources, which operates 11 skilled nursing facilities in Florida, are meeting with their local legislators today to talk about the impact Medicaid funding cuts would have on caregiver jobs and resident quality care/quality of life. Nearly 50 percent of nursing home costs pay for legislatively-mandated direct care staffing, with Florida having one of the highest staffing ratios in the country. Those staffing mandates have resulted in the hiring of over 11,000 new nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants, and today, Florida’s nursing homes employ nearly 259,000 direct- and indirect-care workers. The proposed Medicaid funding cuts ($202 million in the House; $144 million in the Senate), however, would essentially eliminate an amount equal to the annual funding provided for the increased staffing mandates created 10 years ago through the passage of landmark elder care reform.
“Florida’s long term care community is well-positioned to be a significant driver of economic recovery and job creation. We owe it to the growing number of seniors who require quality long term care – and the jobs of frontline caregivers providing that care - to maintain stable Medicaid funding,” 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. “We understand the difficult decisions lawmakers face this session, but our first responsibility must be to protect precious Medicaid dollars for our most vulnerable seniors with no other safety net to cover their health care needs.”
A study conducted by researcher Eljay, LLC, projects that under the Legislature’s proposed cuts to Medicaid nursing home funding, over one-third of Florida’s facilities would experience negative margins, and nearly 50 percent of all facilities would have 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. Facilities which are already operating at a deficit when it comes to Medicaid residents will have no ability to recoup from these significant reductions, putting quality care for residents and vital caregiver jobs at risk.
Opis facility administrators, nurses and staff will also speak of other long term care services that would likely need to be eliminated, including resident activity programs, facility renovations or culture change improvements that model person-centered care. “Quality care in Florida’s nursing homes is good, and we want to keep it that way,” said Marilyn Wood, president of Opis Management Resources, and FHCA Executive Committee member. “Without critical funding, however, a secure and quality health care delivery system for Florida’s aging baby boomers is at risk.”
Over 400 long term care professionals have traveled to Tallahassee over the course of the 2011 legislative session to take part in FHCA’s Lobby Wednesdays. Opis skilled nursing facilities represented as part of this week’s grassroots initiative included Bayview Center and Ruleme Center (Eustis), Bridgeview Center and Coquina Center (Ormond Beach), Fairway Oaks Center (Tampa), Highlands Lake Center (Lakeland), Indian River Center (West Melbourne), Island Lake Center (Longwood), Riverwood Center (Jacksonville) and Tierra Pines Center (Largo).