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Nursing homes say they get ‘historic’ boost from new Pa. budget
Patriot-News - 7/8/2022
Nursing homes and a union representing nursing home workers said the new Pennsylvania budget gives them a significant and desperately-need financial boost.
That includes a 17.5% increase in the daily payment toward people covered by Medicaid — the first such increase in a decade.
“These historic steps come at a time when long-term care providers continue to battle unprecedented challenges due to the pandemic,” said Garry Pezzano, the CEO of LeadingAge PA, which represents 360 non-profit facilities.
“The legislature and the administration showed tremendous leadership in helping us begin charting a course toward a return to stability in our ongoing mission to provide accessible, high-quality care for Pennsylvania’s growing senior population,” Pezzano said.
The payment increase doesn’t begin until Jan. 1. However, the budget signed by Gov. Tom Wolf late Friday contains about $131 million in federal American Rescue Act funds to bridge the gap.
The Pennsylvania Health Care Association, which represents for-profit facilities, called the budget “an investment ten years in the making.”
“Pennsylvania’s seniors and their providers of care can breathe a deep sigh of relief today, as we anticipate a finalized state budget package that will include critical financial assistance for nursing homes, personal care homes and assisted living communities,” CEO Zach Shambaugh said in a statement issued before Wolf signed the final budget.
Pennsylvania has about 680 skilled nursing homes caring for about 110,000 seniors and people with disabilities. About 65% are covered by Medicaid, the state-federal program for people with lower incomes.
Nursing home officials had long said the previous payment of about $200 per day for people covered by Medicaid was about $50 short of actual costs, with Pennsylvania facilities losing about $820 million per year on those residents.
They further said the situation for nursing homes has worsened significantly because of the labor shortage that has pushed up wages. Combined with inflation and increases in things like food and energy costs, costs rose about 9% percent in the 12 months leading up to March, 2022, they said. At that point, industry leaders were predicting nearly 60% of homes would have significant financial losses in 2022.
SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, which represents employees who provide direct care in nursing homes, said the budget contains “a permanent, recurring increase in nursing home funding which, when combined with the federal match, means approximately $600 million annually to help meet the staffing ratios advanced by Gov. Wolf in the updated nursing home regulations.”
The SEIU said the budget requires a high percentage of the funds to be spent on bedside care.
The budget contains a $29 million increase for state-run homes for veterans, and an additional $35 million for a loan forgiveness program intended to attract more nurses, according to SEIU.
“Today marks an historic moment when the demands of workers were heard, and we brought together the Governor’s administration, the nursing home industry, and legislators to start building the reform we need. We need to make sure that all Pennsylvanians can receive safe, reliable care in the setting of their choice,” said Matthew Yarnell, the CEO of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania.
READ MORE FROM PENNLIVE:
Gov. Wolf’s final budget leaves him ‘proud of what we have accomplished’
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