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New study shows trouble ahead for Texas nursing homes

by | May 24, 2016 | Life & Style

Care for seniors costs $267 million more than state pays

Provided by the Texas Health Care Association

A new study estimates the Lone Star State short-changed Texas nursing homes about $267 million last year.

“The ability to meet the needs and expectations of the growing elderly and disabled population should be a major cause for concern for everyone. As a result of the shortfall, as many as 80 percent of nursing homes in Texas are not having their costs for taking care of Medicaid patients met by the state,” said Kevin Warren, president of the non-profit Texas Health Care Association. “Another shortfall on covering these costs is setting us up for trouble ahead for Texas nursing homes.”

The study, sponsored by the non-profit American Health Care Association, comes on the heels of recent news that nurses are fleeing Texas facilities at an unprecedented rate with nurse assistants often able to receive higher wages in the fast food industry. Registered nurses in Texas nursing homes have a 94-percent annual turnover rate.

And as Texas nursing homes struggle with staffing issues, Texas’ senior citizen population is set to explode. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that more than 20 percent of Texas’ population will be over age 60 by the year 2030, an increase of close to 25 percent from 2012.

Warren said the state’s Medicaid reimbursement shortfall — about $232,000 per home each year — not only forces down wages for front-line staff, but prohibits nursing home owners from buying much-needed medical equipment or updating aging facilities.

“Most nursing homes in Texas take care of Medicaid patients at rates that just don’t cover their costs,” Warren said. About 85-percent of residents in Texas nursing homes rely on Medicaid or Medicare.

“Buying a new ventilator or investing more for staff is tough when you aren’t getting paid in full for providing care for a majority of your residents,” Warren said. “Texas nursing homes are 100-percent dedicated to providing high-quality, hands-on care every day. But when it comes time to pay the bills, the state is falling short — about 12-percent short to be exact, according to this study.”

Texas lawmakers can avert a future nursing home crisis by fixing the funding shortfall next legislative session, said Dr. C. Bruce Davis, Deputy Speaker Pro Tem for the Texas Silver Haired Legislature. The issue is one of the group’s top legislative priorities for the 85th Legislative Session, which starts in January.

“The low Medicaid reimbursement rate in Texas, 49th lowest in the nation, threatens the closure of many of our rural nursing facilities,” Davis said.

“The mission of the Texas Health Care Association is to unite, represent, and support professionals who strive to improve the delivery, quality, and integrity of long term healthcare services.”

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