The nursing home crisis is one that has impacted Nebraska with very few signs of being fixed quickly. Agreements on funding continue to plague an area of need and it has continued to worsen as the years have moved on.
In the past year, nursing homes across the state in Omaha, Norfolk, Grand Island, Broken Bow, Sydney, and numerous other cities have permanently closed their doors as overseeing companies have run into money issues.
Long term care facilities are reimbursed through Medicaid based off of a formula created by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This formula has created reimbursement gaps that have forced many facilities to close.
According to nebraskaconversation.com, in the past three years 33 facilities have closed, 33 facilities were put into a receivership, and facilities saw a $34 per day rate deficit in 2016.
Also according to the website, most nursing homes provide care to residents who receive Medicaid. However, the State of Nebraska often does not reimburse nursing homes a rate that covers the cost of providing care to residents. This has created an issue that does not allow nursing homes to care for one of the most vulnerable population, the elderly.
In response to reduced Medicaid reimbursement, nursing homes are forced to charge private pay residents more money to cover the difference. Operating budgets are being stressed, which combined with the decreasing money received from the State of Nebraska, is stretching budgets to their limits. This in turn causes major stress on families, forcing residents to choose facilities they can afford that are often great distances from their families and home towns.
At a public meeting at the Callaway Community Center, Senator Matt Williams and Ron Ross, President of Rural Health Development Inc. discussed the issues facing nursing home facilities. Senator Williams talked about the need to close the reimbursement gaps between facilities which will hopefully be a possibility sooner rather than later. He also talked about having a flat reimbursement rate for all facilities to create an “even playing field.”
Ross talked about the Department of Health and Human Services being broken and a change is needed now. He also noted that while Medicaid coverage for Nebraska children is extremely good, older generations are often discarded and ignored.
These are the reasons why Ross and Williams are urging citizens to send messages not only to their legislative representatives, but also to Governor Pete Rickets.
“Drop him [Governor Rickets] a note. Rules need to be in regulation,” said Ross.
If you are interested in learning more about nursing homes in crisis visit nebraskaconversation.com for the latest information.
If you want your voice to be heard by Governor Ricketts, contact his office through the governor’s website: https://governor.nebraska.gov/contact-governor