The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Letters

May 22, 2013

Promise we must keep

Last week, I was one of nearly 550 nursing home caregivers who traveled to Harrisburg to meet with state legislators and participate in a rally calling for increased funding for the care of residents who are on Medicaid.

It was inspiring to spend time with so many people who were advocating for the same cause -- to ensure that our frailest and sickest elderly receive the quality care they need and deserve. These colleagues from across Pennsylvania are bringing awareness to the financial strains on nursing home providers, as our profession is reaching a breaking point.

One of the main reasons nursing homes are facing increasing financial strain is because the state won't cover the cost of care for residents on Medicaid. Two-thirds of Pennsylvania's nursing home residents are on Medicaid, and for each one of them, we lose an average of $9,500 a year. Unlike other health care providers, nursing homes can't shift costs. Once we've eliminated every unnecessary expense -- and we have -- our only choices are to turn away residents we can't afford or charge a much higher cost for care to those few residents who pay their own way.

Governor Tom Corbett proposed a 2 percent funding increase. We are asking state legislators to support that increase, and also to provide a small incentive to nursing homes that serve a high percentage of Medicaid residents so they can continue to provide that care.

We made a promise to care for our elderly and it's a promise we must keep.

Mark Monahan,

Nursing home administrator, Sunbury

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