The Wall St. Journal had an interesting article on the staffing and budget problems in Texas nursing homes. The industry’s lobbying group blames the problems on cuts in Medicaid funding as profits soar. The industry is pressuring legislators to increase the skilled nursing care Medicaid rate in accordance with Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) recommendations.
Lobbyist Julie Sulik (Texas Health Care Association Nurse Council Chair) said “We care for 60,000 elderly and disabled Texas seniors dependent upon Medicaid, and our facilities simply cannot continue to operate at current staffing levels if Medicaid funding remains well below the actual cost of caring for our elderly.”
The Texas House of Representatives passed SB 1 on April 4 without addressing nursing home care Medicaid rates — despite a $58 million Medicaid cut in 2011 and a $51 million Medicare cut this month. A 2013 Texas Health Care Association (THCA) survey of facilities indicates staff layoffs and wage freezes may occur if cuts remain. “Specifically, the survey finds 84% of nursing homes may have to freeze wages, 75% may have to defer or reduce staff benefits, and 31% say they may have to lay off direct care staff in the wake of cumulative funding cuts.”
Sulik noted a 4/15 Wall Street Journal story that helps detail the demographic challenge and the stakes involved:
The number of Americans 65 years and older is projected to reach 73 million in 2030, up from 40 million in 2010. Serving that growing population will require five million direct-care workers in 2020, up 48% from the 2010 level, according to U.S. government projections.