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Positive Payouts May Improve Quality of Nursing Home Care, Says Dallas Elder Care Attorney

Oct 2, 2012

Waxahachie, TX (Law Firm Newswire) October 1, 2012 – Ohio recently launched a series of financial incentives to encourage and promote positive nursing home standards.

The new approach ties a percentage of the Medicaid payments, on which most nursing homes rely to quantifiable quality ratings, including residents’ satisfaction levels, the ratio of nurses-to-staff and the number of avoidable medical complications that arise on a regular basis.

“States have long struggled to find how to improve the quality of nursing home care when it is needed. They’ve tried fines, citations and various sanctions,” said Dallas elder care attorney John Hale. “Hopefully, financial incentives will be the tool that helps make positive changes to long-term care.”

The program is also designed to address Ohio’s financial outlay for elder care; there are some 970 nursing homes in the state, with a Medicaid program spending $4.5 billion just on long-term care. Whether the system works to improve quality care or not has yet to be seen. Nursing homes are currently paid a flat fee for care, regardless of the quality of care.

Each care facility’s Medicaid payments can be as much as $16.44 per day, per patient. If the facility meets at least five out of 20 listed quality standards, 10 percent of their payment will be offset. If not, some portion of the money will be withheld.

This is not the first incentive program to improve quality of care at nursing homes. Similar programs are in place in Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Nevada, Oklahoma, Utah and Vermont, with small bonuses awarded for quality goals, but Ohio’s program is by far the most comprehensive. Under Ohio’s program, almost 10 percent of Medicaid’s payments will be paid out based on the quantifiable results.

Following in its wake, Medicare will be unveiling its own positive payout program over the next few years in nursing homes. Three-year test programs in Arizona, New York and Wisconsin just ended and are currently being evaluated for efficacy.

The initiative was launched in 2011 by Republican Governor John Kasich to create a “coordinated, comprehensive, patient-centered health care system in Ohio,” one that “reimburses for quality” and is part of a broader overhaul of healthcare, stated Bonnie Kantor-Burman, director of the Ohio Department of Aging.

John Hale is a Dallas elder law attorney and Dallas estate planning lawyer with The Hale Law Firm. To learn more visit http://www.thehalelawfirm.com.

The Hale Law Firm
417 W. Main Street
Waxahachie, TX 75165
Call: 888.425.3911

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