Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) today released its priorities for the 2012 legislative session. Topping the list will be to prevent reductions to Medicaid funding for high-quality nursing home care, given the significant funding cuts long term care providers have experienced over the past six months. A 6.5 percent cut to nursing home Medicaid funding during the 2011 legislative session resulted in a $187.5 million reduction that took effect July 1, 2011. In October, federal regulation resulted in a $332 million cut to facilities’ Medicare reimbursements, and with Congress looking at more ways to reduce the federal deficit, facilities could see further reductions.
“Nursing homes have been hit with a tsunami of funding cuts to our Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements over the past six months,” said Emmett Reed, Executive Director of Florida Health Care Association, the state’s first and largest advocacy organization for long term care providers and the frail elders they serve. “If we see more cuts this session, many facilities will have to make difficult decisions which could restrict future access to care; our state’s seniors deserve better.”
Protecting Funding for Nursing Home Quality Care: Florida nursing homes lose an average of $23.97 per patient day or nearly $575,000 annually due to Medicaid under-funding. For a typical nursing home, 70 percent of costs pay for the staff working in the facility to deliver care, with 40 percent of those costs dedicated to direct-care workers. Funding cuts could mean layoffs for frontline caregivers and other employees at a time when Floridians need jobs. Lack of adequate funding could also mean sending seniors and people with disabilities to long term care hospitals or other higher cost settings for those services. With 60 percent of nursing home residents relying on Medicaid as their safety net for their long term health care needs, FHCA is urging legislators to preserve Medicaid funding to protect residents’ high-quality care, ensure future access to care and maintain the jobs of frontline caregivers.
Put Patients Ahead of Paperwork (HB 621/SB 482): Landmark elder care reform passed by the Florida Legislature in 2001 (SB 1202) has resulted in tougher regulation, increased staffing requirements and quality improvement and risk management programs, all of which are enforced through a combined state and federal survey process of the Agency for Health Care Administration. Nursing home care has steadily improved as a result. The benefits of improved oversight of the quality of care for residents, however, have resulted in duplicative requirements and regulations. FHCA supports HB 621 by Rep. Jim Frishe (R-54) and SB 482 by Sen. Jack Latvala (R-16) which would eliminate duplicative paperwork and outdated reports, allowing caregivers working in nursing homes to focus more time on providing resident quality care.
Alternative Funding Resources (HB 1055/SB 1756): FHCA supports SB 1756 by Sen. Joe Negron (R-28) and HB 1055 by Rep. Rachel Burgin (R-56), which would allow life insurance policies to be used for payment of long term care services and would help the state with its growing Medicaid budget deficit by providing alternative resources for individuals to pay for nursing home care.
“Our members are committed to caring for Florida’s most vulnerable population at a level of quality they expect and deserve,” Reed continued. “This session we’ll see hundreds of nursing home employees and family members join us at the Capitol as we continue educating lawmakers about the impact funding cuts are having on facilities' ability to maintain an adequate workforce and continue delivering high-quality care to our state's seniors.”
To learn more about FHCA’s 2012 legislative priorities, find resources to advocate for protecting Medicaid funding to nursing home care and learn more about being involved in FHCA’s Safeguard Our Seniors grassroots campaign, visit http://www.safeguardourseniors.org/