Lawmakers Must Address Medi-Cal Reimbursement System, Staffing Shortage, to Prevent Nursing Home ‘Collapse’
Federal budget cuts, a "critical" nursing shortage and an "outdated [Medi-Cal] funding" structure have created a "health care crisis" for long term care in California, according to a Torrance Daily Breeze editorial. While the state budget increases Medi-Cal reimbursements for nursing homes by 2.15% and allocates money to increase nursing staff salaries, the editorial says that the additional funding is "not enough" to make up for increases in utility and liability insurance expenses. The editorial notes that the Legislature is considering a bill (AB 1075) that would attempt to alleviate the staffing problem by increasing staff-to-patient ratios at nursing facilities. Such a proposal "might be a step in the right direction," but it does not say "where these additional caregivers would come." The editorial also states that reforming the Medi-Cal payment structure is "something lawmakers simply cannot ignore," as California is "one of the few" states that uses a capitation method instead of a fee-for-service reimbursement structure. With the state's elderly population expected to peak in 2006 and nursing homes facing bankruptcy, the editorial concludes, "[L]awmakers need to begin structural repairs quickly to prevent a full-scale health care collapse" (Torrance Daily Breeze, 8/9).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.