The Texas Health Care Association (THCA) is carefully watching the Texas Legislature regarding Medicaid expansion. Regardless of how the legislature votes, the THCA is concerned about how to maintain access for seniors to quality nursing home care. Medicaid funding levels that adequately support seniors’ nursing home care must be maintained, said President of THCA Steve Graves.
According to the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), the 2014-2015 agency budget calls for a 16.84 percent increase in Medicaid spending. That would be $925 million total, and $372 million in General Revenue (GR), in order to fully over the cost for the approximately 60,000 Texas-based seniors and disabled individuals residing in nursing homes.
The Texas Health Care Association (THCA) was founded in 1950 as a long-term care association, comprised of most of the state’s licensed for-profit and non-profit assisted living facilities, skilled nursing facilities, and specialized rehabilitation facilities. The facilities represented by THCA provide full-time, comprehensive care for the chronically ill and disabled who need nursing care, and for short-term residents, rehabilitative health and therapy services. THCA represents almost 200 long-term care companies which provide services and products to the almost 3,000 Texas-based assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
More than 84 percent of nursing homes in Texas have reported that they are considering freezing wage increases for staff, while more than 81 percent are considering deferring expansion or renovation of their facilities, while more than 78 percent are choosing to not invest in new technology or the latest in therapeutic equipment; 75 percent reported that they may be forced to reduce or defer staff benefits; 31 percent may be laying off staff, and 18 percent may close their facility.
In numerous polls, both Republicans and Democrats typically support Medicaid-funded nursing homes for seniors at the level that state-level health administrators believe is needed for quality care. The issue of how to continue to fund those homes in the wake of benefit-reducing budget cuts and rising inflation is where opinions differ. While a rate increase for Medicaid and Medicare would help fund those facilities, so would privatizing more homes, making cost-cutting and quality a market-competitive issue.
Regardless of how the financial shift needs to be made in nursing home facilities in Texas and throughout the U.S., that change is becoming a more pressing issue, as the Baby Boomers continue to age and the “graying” of the U.S. population continues.
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