Advocates Spar Over Effectiveness of 2004 Nursing Home Law
The law altered the way nursing homes are paid through Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program. Although the program used to pay nursing homes a flat fee, it now pays facilities based on what they spend.
The law is set to expire in mid-2011 unless lawmakers renew it.
Some See Improvements
A new report from the California Association of Health Facilities suggests that the 2004 law helped boost nursing home quality by increasing staffing hours.
The report says that staffing hours rose from an average of 3.3 nursing hours per patient per day in 2002 to 3.57 hours per patient per day in 2007. The minimum requirement is 3.2 hours per patient per day.
Others See Shortfalls
Conversely, the Service Employees International Union and California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform both suggest that the quality of nursing home care has not improved since the enactment of the law.
According to SEIU, the increase in staffing hours has taken place too incrementally to have affected the quality of care.
In addition, CANHR suggests that many facilities have not used the increased funding to boost care or staffing. The organization cited data showing that 144 nursing homes averaged less than 3.2 hours per patient per day in 2002.ÂDespite their disagreements, neither CAHF nor SEIU and CANHR are suggesting a return to the flat-rate payment system (Mitchell, Chico Enterprise-Record, 2/15). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.