Nursing Home Advocates Question Revamped Bill That Would Alter Medi-Cal Reimbursement for Long Term Care
A nursing home bill (AB 1075) that would "radically change the way California pays for long term care through Medi-Cal" passed the state Legislature last week but has received criticism from various senior groups and nursing home advocates, the Contra Costa Times reports. The original bill, sponsored by state Assembly Majority Leader Kevin Shelley (D-San Francisco), would have changed the way the state requires nursing homes to account for staff hours and called for a five-to-one patient-to-staff member ratio during the day. But late last week, legislators approved amendments that would require California by Aug. 1, 2004, to "revamp its reimbursement system" by determining an individual rate for each of the state's 1,200 nursing homes. Currently, Medi-Cal reimburses nursing homes an average of $125 per patient per day. The amendments also would put a yet-to-be-determined staff-patient ratio in place by Aug. 1, 2003. Lisa Hubbard, a spokesperson for the Service Employees International Union, the leading proponent of the revised bill, said that "even an unspecific ratio represents an improvement." She added, "We wanted ratios and we got them." But Eric Carlson, a National Senior Citizen Law Center staff attorney, said, "This is not the kind of thing you do with two days left in the Legislature." Pat McGinnes, executive director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, added, "This isn't the bill that we supported. I am concerned very much about the lack of specifics" in the reimbursement provisions. Both McGinnes' group and the law center have withdrawn their support of the bill in letters to Gov. Gray Davis (D). The revised measure now awaits action from Davis, who "has no position on the bill" and has until Oct. 14 to act on it (Peele, Contra Costa Times, 9/18).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.