The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

May 29, 2014

Nursing homes need adequate Medicaid funding

The Daily Item

— We all want our loved ones to get the very best care when they can no longer live on their own and need the care that only a nursing home can provide. But over the past few years, access to quality nursing home care has been threatened in many Pennsylvania communities.

State reimbursement for the care of residents in the Medicaid program — who account for 65 percent of all residents — doesn’t cover the real cost of care. A recent study by Avalere Health revealed that nursing homes like ours that serve an exceptionally high percentage of Medicaid residents (75 percent and higher) had an average margin of 0.3 percent.

All nursing home administrators want to be able to invest in technology and equipment than can enhance care. We want to recruit and retain compassionate, competent caregivers who become an important part of our residents’ lives. These caregivers deserve competitive salaries which reflect the expertise, professionalism and commitment they bring to their physically and emotionally challenging jobs.

There was a front page story in The Boston Globe this week about four Massachusetts nursing homes that closed because of low Medicaid reimbursement. Families are scrambling to find new care for their loved ones.

Pennsylvania legislators should take note of what’s happening in Massachusetts, because without higher Medicaid reimbursement, it’s only a matter of time until it happens here. The care of the frail and elderly in nursing homes should be a top priority in the state budget.

Mark Monahan, Nursing Home Administrator, Golden Living Center Mansion