Coalition Proposes Fee To Improve Quality of Care at Nursing Homes
A coalition of for-profit nursing home companies and unionized nursing home workers on Wednesday held a rally at a Riverside nursing home to advocate imposing a 6% state fee on nursing home revenue to increase federal matching funds and raise Medi-Cal reimbursement rates to the facilities, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports (Beeman, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 4/22). Under the proposal, nursing homes would pay the quality assurance fee, which would be put into an account for future use, and the state would seek federal matching funds. About 20 other states have similar funding systems for their Medicaid programs, according to Lisa Hubbard, spokesperson for California United for Nursing Home Care Coalition. The proposal would reimburse nursing homes based on the services they provide; facilities with more services would receive more funding, unlike the current system in which all are paid at the same rate (Wells, San Bernardino County Sun, 4/22). According to the Press-Enterprise, the fee would provide an additional $19 million annually to nursing homes in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
Jack Christy, policy director for the California Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, which represents not-for-profit nursing homes, said that nursing homes with a large percentage of private-pay patients would receive "little benefit" from the fee and that it "would encourage more people who could otherwise afford nursing home care to shelter their assets and let Medi-Cal pay the bill," the Press-Enterprise reports. Christy added that federal funding for such programs may not last. If larger states, such as California, Texas and Florida, adopted them, it could cost the federal government another $1 billion, he said. Pat McGinnis, executive director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, which does not oppose the fee, said strict state guidelines on how to allocate the money would need to be enacted to improve the quality of care. The Service Employees International Union, which represents 14,000 nursing home workers statewide, is promoting the proposal. Department of Health Services and CMS officials could not be reached for comment. About three dozen certified nursing assistants, religious leaders, community members and nursing home residents attended the event in support of the proposal (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 4/22). Coalition members plan to meet with state legislators in upcoming weeks and to stage a May 18 rally in Sacramento (San Bernardino County Sun, 4/22).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.