Louisiana lawmakers allow a change in the payment formula for the state’s high-performing nursing home industry that will grow its bottom line despite objections from groups advocating more home services for the elderly.
The attorney reports that the Chairs of the Health Committees of the House and Senate have no plans to hold hearings on the changes in payments proposed by the Louisiana Department of Health. Without legislative intervention, the new regulation will come into force on December 20th.
The rule adjusts the complex formula used to determine how much each of the roughly 260 nursing home operators receives through state and state Medicaid funding to care for their residents. The change increases the area allowed for many nursing home rooms.
This makes nursing home owners about $ 6 million more each year. The organizations that make major campaign contributions and have significant political influence in Louisiana already receive approximately $ 1.2 billion annually in federal and state funding.
The Louisiana Nursing Home Association requested the rules change and notified the state health department that the new reimbursement rate will update a 19-year-old formula to encourage operators to renovate their facilities for more single rooms.
Opponents argue that the money should be better spent providing seniors with services that allow them to stay at home than leaving institutionalization as the primary choice for care.
Larry Bagley, chairman of the DeSoto community, said he had received a lot of correspondence against the proposed changes. However, he said he felt that lawmakers had been pushing nursing homes to provide more and larger single rooms for residents, especially given the need for social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.
“If we don’t apply this rule, that money won’t necessarily go to community care,” said Bagley.
Senator Fred Mills, the St. Martin Parish Republican who chairs the Senate Health Committee, said he supported the reimbursement change.
“I can see the opponents’ point of view and understand the money problems. But for years the policy has been to increase the area, ”said Mills. “I found the explanation useful from the nursing home’s perspective.”
Louisiana Disability Rights told the health department it was “concerned that more money in nursing homes is going the wrong direction”. Denise Bottcher, executive director of AARP Louisiana, wrote to House Speaker Clay Schexnayder asking for his help planning a futile hearing on this rule.
“We believe it is short-sighted to allocate states’ limited resources to supply care homes, which will only exacerbate cuts in other critical services,” Bottcher said.
She said more than 11,000 people are waiting for the opportunity to receive long-term support and services at home rather than in an institution. The state’s increased payments to nursing homes would help 200 people stay in their own homes, she said.
“It seems to be more appropriate to spend this money on service to people than to pay for square meters,” wrote Bottcher Schexnayder.
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