Tuesday, February 24, 2015

FHCA Sets 2015 Legislative Priorities for Long Term Care

With more than 60 percent of residents in Florida’s skilled nursing centers relying on Medicaid, the Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) has set legislative priorities that focus on restoring Medicaid funding, making improvements to Medicaid managed long term care and protecting seniors from unexpected medical bills.

More than three in five residents of skilled nursing centers depend on Medicaid to cover the cost their long term health care needs, and another 20 percent rely on Medicare funding. Funding cuts in recent years have significantly affected resources to care for this population, and restoring previous cuts will allow for upgrades to physical plants and equipment, according to FHCA Executive Director Emmett Reed.

“As Florida’s skilled nursing centers prepare to meet the needs of aging Baby Boomers, it’s important we modernize our aging buildings, enhance our technologies and continue placing focus on a more person-centered environment,” Reed said. “Adequate funding opens the door to so many necessary options and will enable our centers to continue making strides in quality care.”

Florida’s skilled nursing centers have experienced over $700 million in Medicaid reductions since 2008. Despite some funding recoupments over the last few years, Medicaid still currently underfunds skilled nursing care by $15.46 per person per day. Florida has more than 73,000 residents in skilled nursing centers, and those centers lose an average of about $377,000 per year due to this Medicaid shortfall.

FHCA will ask the Legislature to restore Medicaid funding for nursing center care as a top priority this session.

FHCA is calling for the Legislature to review Florida’s Medicaid Managed Care System. Florida’s nursing center residents are experiencing a lack of coordination of care as a result of having two separate plans – one for long term care and another for their traditional health care needs. “Our hope is the Legislature will review the system to ensure residents who rely on Medicaid are receiving the appropriate access to care,” Reed continued.

FHCA is also supporting SB 768 and HB 309, which aim to educate consumers regarding their hospital admission status. Seniors are often unaware that Medicare will not cover the cost of follow-up rehabilitative care in a skilled nursing center if the hospital classifies them under “observation status” rather than admitting them as in-patient during their stay.

“Many of the residents cared for in skilled nursing centers come from the hospital, often needing rehabilitative or restorative care before they are ready to return home,” said Reed. “This legislation will ensure they are properly informed about their hospital admission status and help protect them from serious financial burdens.”

More information about the Florida Health Care Association and its legislative priorities can be found at http://www.fhca.org/advocacy/ or by contacting FHCA at (850) 224-3907.