Study: Results Mixed on Medi-Cal Pay Increase for Nursing Homes
California nursing homes received a boost in Medi-Cal reimbursements from a 2004 law to enhance patient care, but patient care has not improved since the funding increase took effect in 2006, according to a study to be released today from UC-San Francisco, the Los Angeles Times reports. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
By 2006, average nursing home revenue increased to $152 per patient day from $124 per patient day in 2004. The first full year the higher rates were in place was 2006 (Rau, Los Angeles Times, 4/8).
From 2004 to 2006, Medi-Cal funding for nursing homes increased by $590 million, and total revenue for nursing homes jumped by $1.1 billion.
Over the same time period, the study also found that:
- Patient complaints of mistreatment increased by 38%;
- State and federal citations of nursing homes increased by 6% (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/8);
- Nursing attention for patients grew by 3%;
- Spending on direct patient care decreased by 3.6%; and
- Average net profit for nursing homes experienced a 233% hike to $248,047 (Los Angeles Times, 4/8).
About 88% of facilities were not in compliance with federal regulations during annual inspections in 2006, and 22% were found to have violations that caused harm or jeopardized patient care (San Francisco Chronicle, 4/8).
The study found that 16%, or 144 homes, did not meet the state's minimum staffing levels in 2006.
From 2004 to 2006, average hourly wages for nursing assistants increased from $10.61 to $11.32, but did not keep up with inflation.
By contrast, wages for licensed vocational nurses increased by 9%, while administrators' pay increased by 13%.
The nursing home industry, a union lobbyist and former Assembly Majority Leader Dario Frommer -- the bill's author -- said the study was premature because the homes had to wait between 18 and 24 months before receiving the increased reimbursements.
Betsy Hite, a spokesperson for the California Association of Health Facilities, said the law has helped to stabilize the nursing home industry, which has seen a number of bankruptcies.
Beth Capell, a lobbyist for the Service Employees International Union, said SEIU was disappointed that wages and staffing had not increased more. She added that she was not surprised the homes waited to spend the funding because of a past experience where the Legislature did not follow through on funding pledges (Los Angeles Times, 4/8).