Nursing Homes Statewide Rally in Support of Bill Addressing Medi-Cal Reimbursement Rates
Statewide, 100 rallies were held at nursing homes on Wednesday to seek support for a bill (AB 1629) that would allow the state to apply $250 million in federal funds to increasing Medi-Cal reimbursement rates for nursing home care, the Contra Costa Times reports (Peele, Contra Costa Times, 8/12). The bill, sponsored by Assembly member Dario Frommer (D-Glendale), would allow the state to access the federal funds by requiring health care providers to pay a "quality assurance fee" (Ailworth, Los Angeles Times, 8/12).
Currently, the average daily Medi-Cal reimbursement is $118 per nursing home patient, regardless of how much care is needed, according to California United for Nursing Home Care, a coalition of large nursing facility operators and the Service Employees International Union (Rico, Orange County Register, 8/12). Under the bill, Medi-Cal nursing home reimbursements would increase by about 5.7% in 2004 and 2005 (Contra Costa Times, 8/12).
The bill also would change the way reimbursements are paid to nursing homes with Medi-Cal beneficiaries by strengthening accountability measures and capping some overhead costs. In addition, it would allow facilities to redirect money to additional patient services.
Supporters of the bill say it will "fulfill the promise" of AB 1075, a bill that also addressed Medi-Cal reimbursement rates for nursing home care but "fell short" of resolving the issue, according to the Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles Times, 8/12). The legislation, enacted by former Gov. Gray Davis (D) in 2001, set an Aug. 1 deadline for a reform of Medi-Cal reimbursements for nursing home care, but the deadline passed without an overhaul.
Todd Scranton, administrator of McClure Convalescent Hospital, said, "We can't wait any longer," adding that current payments "leav[e] nursing homes in the red each day."
Marc Hansen, administrator of a nursing home in Marin County, said, "Residents don't get the care they deserve, and employees don't get the wages and benefits they deserve" (Contra Costa Times, 8/12).
Certified nursing assistants are paid about $8.50 an hour, and licensed nurses receive between $18 and $23 per hour. Supporters of the bill say low wages and lack of benefits impede efforts to hire and retain qualified staff members (Orange County Register, 8/12).